Don’t you love when you have a light bulb moment or one deep with realization?!
I’ve run through Warrior I and II (Virabhadrasana I and II) sequences for years. My common complaint is the major difference in how my hips feel in each pose. Warrior I tends to feel like such a forced effort getting the hips squared and parallel to the front of the mat. I’ve shorten my split stance and still find it challenging. In warrior II, the hips are of no concern. Even to the point where the pose is super comfy and I bask in holding it.
Well, for starters, I am not convinced that my pelvis is in alignment. It hasn’t been for some time. And “forcing” it into warrior I position is a clear indication that something is off.
Yet, in this week’s practice, I finally realized what ELSE is going on!
My quads turn on fire in warrior I. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been in the pose for only 10 seconds when I have to extend my knee to give my quadriceps a break. My first thought is that my quads are overrun from the cycling I do (at least three rides/week for 45-60 minutes each session).
But when I ran through the sequence this week, with beginner’s eyes, I realized something else.
I’m loading up my quadriceps by focusing on my front leg only and not allowing the back leg to take on any of the work. I hazard a guess that if I was to take a picture of myself in the pose or watch in a mirror, I might even have my torso more forward over my front leg.
With a super kinesthetic awareness cue, Adriene had me actually tap my adductors of the back thigh to ensure they were engaged. It was almost like I’d awaken the missing link. Not only did the adductors engage but my glute of the same leg did too.
Whoa! What symmetry a balanced warrior I feels like!
Working as a sleuth this week, I appreciated Adriene’s beginner practice where I could slow down and focus on the fundamentals. In the description it even says, "This practice is also great for yoga teachers or aspiring yoga teachers!”.
Clearly a shout out to me! ;)
This month is my “take the leap” month. I’ve started working on the paperwork for the Yoga Association of Alberta’s 300 hour Hatha Teacher Training. I’m keen to start in January 2017 with the first module. I can’t lie, I’ve got some irrational fears like who will I find to be my mentor (you need a senior teacher to take you on), will I be able to do all the modules in order (let’s face it, I like order) and will the expectations be too much (can I still stick with my home practice for now??? Getting to a class is such a challenge). BUT it is time I get started…formally at least!
And with that being said, this week’s practice was a great reminder to all the poses I need to know. I’m pretty confident that I’ve covered all the asanas listed in the Teacher Training package. Yet, it is a great reminder to go back to the basics, like warrior I and II this week.
I am getting excited to finally put my 218 weeks of blogging to the test! I am certain it will be a journey of growth and learning as well as a chance to really get some much needed eyes on my hips! Home practice just doesn’t afford that!
Ready to leap!
Last week I taught a workshop on pre and postnatal exercise for fitness leaders. Already certified, these instructors were primarily working with the general, healthy population but also moms-to-be and new moms. Many of the women in the room were already mothers and had their own stories to share about their pregnancies and births.
Interestingly, we all come to the exercise studio (and the yoga mat) with our own experience. I’m not going to lie but a large motivation for doing this training was to ensure instructors understand the complications and changes to the pelvic floor women have after birth and possibly caused from pregnancy too.
Although not unique, but very unique to me, was my pelvic floor dysfunction post pregnancy and birth of my first child. It took over a year to determine exactly what was wrong. Being a new mom, I thought that what was going on “down there” was normal and what I would have to deal with the rest of my life. Not only was it a tough year with a newborn (read: lacking sleep, sharing my body and milk with a little human being and some days limited adult contact), I was dealing with a body that no longer felt like mine.
By 8 months post-partum I finally conceded that I needed to go to physiotherapy. Nothing was improving with my, what I thought, expert knowledge. Boy was I out of my league! It was with the fantastic work of physiotherapists that I was able to find out what the H - E - double hockey stick was wrong!
In a nutshell, pardon the medical terms, I was diagnosed with a grade one uterine prolapse, rectocele and cystocele. The triple bang for your buck! Recognizing now that these three forms of pelvic floor dysfunction are like any injury, it has taken me this long to finally put the words to print in this blog. Previous to my first pregnancy, I knew about prolapse but the other two were new to me.
Needless to say, having injury in the lady bits isn’t something people talk about. And thus, I’m on the hunt to not only keep my injuries in check but to also get the word out and make it much more well known. This is why I have become trained in hypopressives exercise through Low Pressure Fitness and Hypopressives Canada.
Enter this week’s yoga practice. I was looking for a longer practice and fell into Adriene’s playlist for weight loss. I had somehow (again this week) missed this video before and jumped in with two feet.
What I got was a challenging core workout!
Note: some soreness two days later!
By no means, am I complaining about the yoga asana sequence nor the video at all. Yet, my head goes straight to the core. My core. Is this work good for my pelvic floor?
I modified slightly but was intrigued when Adriene mentioned Uddiyana Bandha.
I had heard references that Uddiyana Bandha is like hypopressive exercise yet I have never taken the time to explore it. Well, this week is the first week to do so.
I dove into Coulter’s book, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, and was shocked to find not only Uddiyana Bandha but also found Ashwini Mudra, Mula Bandha, Agni Sara, and Nauli. Now too much to cover now (and let’s be honest, I’m a bit overwhelmed with understanding them in text form only) but needless to say, hatha yoga has its own set of abdominopelvic poses that I didn’t even knew existed.
Well, I don’t think they show up in your traditional yoga studio. They seem highly complex and likely very difficult to teach in a group setting. There are also contraindications to consider and thus, hard to ensure all in a group are safe.
So, it might be that they show up in personalized practice for more experienced yogis.
But back to Uddiyana Bandha…
Considered an upward abdominal lock, Uddiyana Bandha is extremely similar to the apneas in hypopressive exercises. By using the breath (inhalation and exhalation), one takes a “false” breath by keeping the glottis closed to lift the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. It is a vacuum effect based on the decrease in pressure in the chest cavity. It may seem to look like sucking in the abdominals but it is much more.
Unable to put my practice into words (I’m still working on my own personal practice of hypopressives!), I’ll opt to leave it at that. Realizing that hypopressive apneas are very similar if not the same as Uddiyana Bandha.
Can’t wait to practice and learn more! For my knowledge but also for my pelvic floor health!
Although I didn’t have a big event coming this week, I dabbled in Adriene’s Confidence Boost Yoga practice. Who doesn’t want a confidence boost?!
I surprised myself since I hadn’t done this video before. I am usually on the hunt for a video that is at least 30 minutes in duration so I can’t believe I’ve missed this one. This practice brought forth the idea of standing in your own skin. Recognizing what you, as an individual, can do to set the stage for your own confidence level. To quote the Youtube description, “add mindfulness and consciousness to your life”.
Two key yoga asanas stood out for me in this practice:
1. Balance (standing flamingo pose into dancers pose [Natarajasana])
My balance was unbelievably off this week. The typical strength and pose I feel during balance sequences was totally absent. As we progressed from one side then on to the other, Adriene had this gem of wisdom:
So whether you just need a little lift, or you’re preparing for something, an audition, an interview, like I said a date, a conversation, this is your time to really find support from within. So balancing poses can be a little brutal because they kind of show us when we’re not connected…so the lesson here is to just tend to it.
I wonder what caused me to falter. Was it the early morning practice (I’m not fully awake)? Is there really something else that is taking my attention? I’m not gonna lie, life is hectic at the best of times. Or was I just distracted by the rockin’ leggings Adriene was wearing during this practice?
Absolutely not the leggings! ;) Loved the leggings!
Maybe more likely that coming into stillness and focus this week was much more difficult than I let myself believe. The past six weeks have been ramped up with activities and life so was it finally presenting itself in my yoga practice? Possible conclusion…
2. Stick pose or is it Staff Pose?
The simplicity of sitting on the ground with the legs outstretched is very deceiving. I suppose I haven’t really blogged about Staff Pose (Dandasana) before as it may not always show up in practice and/or it is a asana that could easily be overlooked - dare I say! Yet, in this week’s practice, something struck me…
Initially Adriene called it stick pose. It confused me as I had thought it was called staff pose. Funny enough, it can be called both. This was the first time I had ever heard a reference to Stick Pose, and thus, I needed to know more.
Fittingly, Adriene went into great detail on how staff pose is SO essential to yoga and life.
[In] Dandasana, we kind of just always come to this shape but we forget that Danda, the Danda is the line from the base of the spine to the crown. The line of our energy centers. The line of energy that we move with and that supports us. And when we take a second to really connect to this or your whole practice, it really does serve us and it really does alter the way we carry ourselves and the way we walk into a room and the way that we meet and greet experiences. Whether we plan for them or not.
Ding! Ding Ding!
Danda? This was another new thing to me. I’d never even heard of that word before. Well, what learnings I am getting this week. I’ll tuck that one away for another week!
All in all, who knew 30 minutes of yoga would open me up to so many new things and a renewed sense of confidence,
For more on Staff Pose...for me to still try too...
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.