Tag Archives: Posture Clinic

Posture Clinic: Rabbit Pose

Rabbit Pose

Sasangasana

Rabbit Pose photo: Bikram Yoga San Antonio

The progression between Camel Pose and Rabbit Pose is one of the most stimulating and beneficial parts of the Bikram Yoga series. Both poses open the spine deeply, helping to stretch and stimulate the inter-vertebral disks. This helps to not only ensure proper spinal alignment but helps to maintain the spongy nature of the disks which helps them absorb shock from daily movement to prevent back pain. Highly theraputing for the nervous, skeletal, digestive and glandular systems this is pose that is difficult to master but well worth the effort.

Strengthens:
Abdomen

Stretches:
Muscles of the back
Shoulders
Scapula
Medulla Oblongata

Stimulates:

Thyroid
Parathyroid

Physical Benefits:
Provides maximum longitudinal extension of the spine.

Stretches the spine to increase proper nutrition to the nervous system.

Improves the mobility and elasticity of the spine and back muscles.

Helps balance and regulate metabolism.

Balances hormones.

Improves digestion.

Helps relieve glandular problems.

Helps improve conditions of the sinus, common cold and chronic tonsillitis.

Emotional Benefits:

Helps with depression.

Helps with insomnia.

Releases issues with taking on responsibility for the happiness of others.

Energetic Benefits

Opens the back of the heart chackra.

Posture Tips

Rabbit pose is one of the most challenging postures to master in the Bikram Yoga series. This is a posture where it is especially important to pay attention to the dialogue.

Always start with the right grip in the pose. The thumbs should be included with the rest of the fingers, thumbs on the outside, fingers on the inside.

Once you are in the posture, do not move to correct it. Fix the posture in the set up, not when you are in it. – Bikram

The biggest misconception beginners have about rabbit is that there should be no weight or pressure on the head. In fact, about 15% of the body weight should be in the head.

The dialogue will always encourage to lift the hips up, which is important to the pose. But it is important to never sacrifice the grip to get the hips higher. Remember,it is the grip and pull that create the force to stretch the spine.

If there is too much pressure on head, grab lower on the foot – Craig Villani

The harder you pull on the feet the better of a compression you will create benefiting the organs.

Try to eliminate any gap under the ankles and work to have the heels together through the pose.

While pulling on the heels, lift the shoulders away from the ears.

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Posture Clinic: Why back-bending is good for your spine.

“If you have a good spine, the gods will chase you. Nobody has psychological or emotional problems, everyone has a bad spine.” Bikram Choudhury

Ashley Hooper and Elisa Matthews back-bending photo: Bikram Yoga College of India

by Barbora Simek

Understanding why and how back-bending is beneficial for the spine is a challenge for many yoga students. For many, back-bending is an emotionally charged, challenging and often uncomfortable part of practice. However despite its discomforts back-bending can be one of the most therapeutic parts of a yoga practice.

Think of all the time you spend bending forward in a day, from enjoying a coffee with a newspaper, to driving, to typing at a computer, cleaning or lounging with a friend. The reality is, we spend most of our day in an unsupported forward bend.

Internally, forward bending causes the front of vertebrae move closer together, forcing the inter-vertebral disks and spinal nerves back. Prolonged poor posture can:

  • cause or aggravate back and neck pain
  • constrict blood-flow and put pressure on vital organs and glands preventing them from functioning properly
  • has been shown to have negative effects on self-esteem and mood in studies

Ironically, when most people experience back pain or discomfort their first reaction is to bend forward, not knowing it is the cause of their discomfort. In reality back-bending is what is needed to counter-act the impact of continuous forward bending. This impulse is not easy to unlearn.

First it is important to recognize that back-bending is a natural range of motion for the spine. “Think of monkeys or children climbing in a tree who reach backward for a branch, the spine bends backward,” says Jeff Weisman a Toronto based Bikram Yoga teacher and Hellerworker.

As you bend backwards you compress the posterior part of your spinal column, pushing your disks away from the spinal nerves and decompress the front of the vertebrae. This effectively counteracts the damage of hours spent forward bending.

Those concerned and intimidated by back-bending should rest assured that the controlled environment and proper progression of the Bikram Yoga series allows for back-bends to be preformed safely. For those with limitations and injuries, remember to speak to your instructor, move slowly and listen to your body.

Physical Benefits

  • Stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and prepares the body for action.
  • Helps counteract damage of bad posture.
  • Relieves back pain, bronchial distress, scoliotic deformities, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder.
  • Realigns the spine.
  • Promotes proper kidney function.
  • Helps with digestive function, eliminating constipation and flatulence.

Energetic Benefits

  • Stimulates all the chackras, primarily creating opening in the fourth (heart) chackra.

Emotional Benefits

  • Helps to break through insecurity and fear.
  • Relieves stress and tedium.
  • Opening the lower back helps to free you from insecurity and taking yourself too seriously.
  • Helps to build confidence and self-esteem in children.

Tips from the Pros

Allow your exhale to lower you into your maximum depth, allow your inhale to lift you up and forward. Reverse this pattern on purpose by pulling backward more vigorously into the posture during the inhalation (taking you more fulling into the posture) and then relaxing and easing off the posture during the exhale (thereby reducing tension).- Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, Dr. H. David Coulter

“Lift your breastbone up as you go down into it, instead of jamming only the lower waistband spine.
You HAVE to have your elbows pressing IN, not bowing out before you go down.

Also, LIFT the front of the neck and shoulders and armpits before you drop down.

Then you lift UP, OUT and OVER your waistband spine so you do not get that crimping feeling.” – Mary Jarvis for All Back-bending Heals the Spine

Do not contract the gluteal muscles until you reach your maximum expression then tighten – Rajishree Choudhury (for more read this article)

The standing back-bend is regulated by locked knees – Craig Villani

Drop the head back as far as it goes. The head and arms do not need to stay together. – Bikram Choudhury

Tips for teachers

Beginners are always afraid of back-bending. Make sure to stress that the hips, stomach, legs everything must come forward. – Bikram Choudhury

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Posture Clinic: Fixed-Firm Pose

by Barbora Simek

Fixed Firm Pose

Supta-Vajrasana

Fixed Firm Pose photo credit: Bikram Yoga on the Hill, Boulder Colorado visit their great site here!


Extension of

  • Quadriceps muscles
  • Spleen
  • Lymph glands in arm pits
  • Ankles

Compression of

  • Knees
  • Adrenal glands
  • Lower Back

Physical Benefits

  • Improves circulation to kidneys, liver, pancreas and bowels.
  • Rebuilds the flexibility of the knees and ankles
  • Helps to boost the immune system through stimulation of the spleen.
  • Helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, particularly the lymph glands of the arm-pit.
  • Helps with digestion problems including indigestion, gas, constipation.
  • Good for asthma and respiratory conditions.
  • Stimulates adrenal glands through creating pressure and compression in the lower back.
  • Muscles of the thighs, abdomen and pelvis are stretched.
  • Helps to flush knees and ankles of calcium deposits, scar tissue and arthritic starts.
  • Helps to minimize menstrual pain for women.
  • Helps with sciatica, gout and varicose veins.

Energetic Benefits

  • Regular practice of this asana helps to activate kundalini energy.
  • Helps to liberate sexual energy, helping you maintain sexual longevity with age.

Posture Tips

Fixed firm pose is particularly challenging for athletes and those suffering from knee injuries. It is important to recognize that this is an anatomically correct asana, and helps to rebuild a natural flexibility of the joint.

ALWAYS maintain correct alignment, heels touching with the hips, just as the dialogue says. This will ensure the ligaments of the knees and ankles are stretched evenly building balanced flexibility.

DO NOT compensate in the posture by changing the position of your feet. Your ankles should be straight, toes pointing to the back wall.

DO correct the depth of the posture if you feel pain, less is more.

Posture Tips from the Pros

ALWAYS keep your knees on the floor. – Bikram

“Do not mess with the knees, you can mess with the Gods but you cannot mess with the knees” – Bikram Choudhury

Even if you are experiencing pain in the pose, start with your knees together and your heels touching your hips to ensure proper alignment. Once you have the alignment, then separate the knees as much as you need. – Emmy

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Posture Clinic – Standing Bow Part II, tips from Craig

Notes from Craig

The dynamics of the pose are kicking and stretching – forget holding.

The kick and the stretch create the balance of the posture

Direct your fingers to stretch forward so that there is not stopping, liberating any tension in the shoulders.

Make sure the energy of the stretching does not stop in the wrists

The chest must come down to create the stimulation of the circulatory system.

You MUST kick -when you hold back in the posture you create tension rather than stretching, you are preventing the full benefits of the posture

Always grab at the ankle, as this is the center of the force for your kick.

Do not think of your hips, when you shift focus to the hips you lose the rest of the posture, the hips are an extension of the  form.

For advanced students

  • Try to keep the axis of your face perpendicular to the floor.
  • do not anticipate the positioning of your hand, always grab at the ankle
  • flexible people often forget to contract the thigh and allow the knee to come unlocked, make sure to keep it locked.

If you do not bring your body down all the way and the weight remains in the heel, you are grinding your femur bone into the hip joint.

If you fall diagonally in the posture it is diagnostic, and is telling you that your legs are out of alignment.

Check out some more great tips here from New York Hatha Yoga Champion, Kyoko Katsura.

Tips for Teachers

If students are keeping their weight in their heel in the pose, and are resistant to bring it forward, approach and explain to them after class – Craig

It is important to make beginners bring the body down first, because otherwise they never would. For regular and advanced students you can instruct them to focus on the kick first to create a trajectory and achieve a fuller posture – Craig

Source: Fall 2005 Teacher Training Lectures

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Posture Clinic- Standing Bow

After an inspiring weekend of watching competitors with next to perfect standing bows at the International Bishnu Ghosh Cup Hatha Yoga Championships, OMB gives you a breakdown of the pose.

Standing Bow Pulling Pose

Dandyamana Dhanurasana

2009 US Champion Courtney Mace in Standing Bow photo: USA Yoga

Anatomy

Contraction of

  • Quadriceps
  • Gulteus Maximus

Extension of

  • Shoulders -Trapezius / Latisimus Dorsi
  • Groin – Sartorius / Hamstrings
  • Chest – Pectorals / Diaphram / Ribcage

Compression

  • Kidneys
  • Spine

Stimulation

  • Circulatory System
  • Digestive System
  • Reproductive System
  • Urinary System
  • Endocrine System
  • Heart

Benefits

  • Creates natural irrigation of the circulatory system – transfers blood flow from one side of the body to the other
  • Clears plaque off artery walls
  • Helps to stimulate circulation through out the body
  • Eases back pain through compression of the spine
  • Improves elasticity of the spine
  • Tones hips and buttocks
  • Trims and strengthens the thighs
  • Strengthens the ankles and knees
  • Opens the shoulder joints, helps with frozen shoulder
  • Helps alleviate carpal tunnel, arthritis, tennis elbow
  • Helps with cervical spondylosis
  • Good for prenatal recovery
  • Stretches diaphragm and ribcage improving respiration (breathing)
  • Flushes kidneys, bladder and urinary system
  • Alleviates gas, constipation and clears digestion
  • Improves balance

Energetic Benefits

  • releases shame, abandonment
  • resolves issues of self-worth, fear of betrayal
  • develops determination, patience

Posture Tips

Be sure to start with the knees touching together to ensure balance.

Keep your weight toward the front of your foot, watch that the weight does not move into the heel as you initiate your kick

Always remember that, “kicking and stretching are 50/50, equal, simultaneous.” When you increase the force of your kick you must also increase the energy of the arm stretching toward the mirror to maintain your balance.

Just as in standing head-to-knee, the standing leg is your foundation, keep the knee locked with a firm contraction of thigh.

Bikram’s dialogue says to touch the shoulder to the chin, not chin to the shoulder. Keep your chin lifted and extend the arm forward to bring the shoulder and chin together, helping to promote the proper alignment of the shoulders.

BREATHE, try to take a few focused deep breaths in the pose.

On the inhales, harness your energy and stretch the arm forward, on your exhale deploy that energy into your kick.

OMB is going to teach, posture tips from the pros to come tonight!


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Posture Clinic: Standing Head to Knee Pose

One of the most dynamic and challenging postures in the Bikram Yoga series, here is OMB’s breakdown of standing head-to-knee.

Standing Head to Knee Pose

Dandayamana Janushirasana

Huiping Mo, Bishnu Ghosh Cup Champion demonstrates standing head-to-knee pose. photo: Bikram Yoga College of India

Anatomy:

Contraction of :

Compression of:

Extension of:

The proximity of the heart to the floor, puts pressure on the muscle, exercising the heart through elevating the heart rate.

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Tell us what you want! What you really, really, want….

We are looking forward to next week’s posture clinic as much as you are, so let us know what you would like to see in it!

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