Saturday, 11 October 2014

Actions of Yoga: Week 1 Wrap Up (ankles, knees, and hips)

What a fabulous morning we had out on the lawn by Lake Burley Griffin learning some of the key actions of yoga.

The main emphasis this week was to figure out the types of movements we can generate in our feet, the basic movements of the hips, to understand some 'positioning basics' of feet and hips, and then to find ways to create action throughout our legs in standing postures.

From my perspective, it looked like everyone could feel the difference between a dull and sinking pose and was able to transform it into an active and lifting pose that generated warmth in the hips especially and lightness in the spine.  Excellent work!

This post is mainly a recap for those who attended the class but some of the tips might help your thinking about your yoga practice even if you did not attend.  I'd recommend practicing and studying with a teacher though.

Some of the main points covered this week:

  1. Gripping the toes to help with balance.  
  2. Lifting outer edge of outer foot towards outer ankle in standing and balancing poses to help activate outer ankle joint (which tends to be weak and overstretched in many).  This was especially helpful (but hard) in the heel raising postures of the opening sequence, helped with balance in pasrvottanasana and reverse triangle, and helped with preventing over stretching when applied in positions on the ground.  
  3. When a leg is in front of us, turn the thigh out.
  4. When a leg is behind us, turn the thigh in.
  5. When positioning the front foot in standing postures, move the heel out slightly so that the outside edge of your foot is either parallel to the edge of your mat or you look slightly pigeon toed.  Then, grip with the toes and try to 'screw' the heel inwards.  You should feel activation up the leg to the outer hip.  This will help turn the front thigh out.
  6. In standing postures where a leg is behind and the foot is flat on the ground, the thigh turns in and you can enhance this by trying to 'screw' the heel outwards and toes inwards.  You should feel activation again up the back of the leg and inner thigh, also helping turn the thigh in.  
  7. In standing postures with one leg forward and one leg backward you can generally try to 'stretch the floor with your feet'.  This means press front foot forwards and back foot backwards.  There are other options at times but we can stick to this for now.  You should feel the front of the front thigh activates and the back of the back thigh and butt activates.  
  8. The combined screwing of the feet and stretching of the mat with the feet will help activate front and back of both hips.  With this activation, you should find lightness in the spine so that it can 'billow around'.
  9. In sitting forward bend (pascimottanasana) we tried moving heels towards sit bones and pushing sit bones towards heels, which helped to create action in the legs and lift in the spine.
  10. In gomukhasana we tried pressing the knees together.  

The video on this blog is me, having returned home, putting some of those actions together.  Yes, there is my niece's rocking horse peeking in from the side. And Humpty Dumpty and Ragedy Doll too.

Next week we continue our work on the lower limbs, with particular attention to actions to relieve tight hips flexors, bending forward, and some more focus on forward bending.

I highly recommend online courses from Yoga Synergy and classes with Paddy McGrath and Simon and Biance (Yoga Synergy).  You can link to their online courses on my home page.

Hope to see some of you next week again!

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