2 Tips to Practice Safer.
Did you know that the yoga we practice today is mostly derived from T. Krishnamacharya’s yoga school in Mysore, India? In the early 1900s T. Krishnamacharya trained young boys in the ancient Indian art and science of yoga. Today we practice his students’ interpretations. From the prop-heavy and methodical hatha yoga of BKS Iyengar to the more gymnastic and energetic astanga or vinyasa flow of K. Pattabhi Jois.
If you, like most people, did not grow up practicing yoga, and spend a good part of your day in a chair, then consider modifying your movement practice so that it works better for your body.
Here are two tips that benefit most people.
- Bend those knees. Even if it’s a small amount. Forward bends with straight knees may look cool and feel like an accomplishment, but the stretch is happening at the hamstring’s tendon attachment to the pelvis which over time can cause proximal hamstring tendinopathy also known as a pain in the butt.
Bent knees in a forward fold will stretch the hamstring and take pressure off the low back, a slightly bent or even a deep bend in the front leg of a triangle pose will prevent hyperextension the knee, bend the knee and straighten in one-legged poses like half-moon or warrior three to strengthen the hamstring, and even bend the knees laying down in savasana to release the low back. Want to stretch and strengthen the entire width and length of the hamstring? Bend your knees and feel the reward of supple hamstrings.
- Maintain a neutral neck. The neck muscles are the most sensitive muscles of the body and easily become agitated and stuck. Most of us have some degree of a forward head from using phones and computers. Weakened neck muscles are not happy rotating a heavy head during a yoga pose. Until the neck is stronger, maintain a neutral neck and head in all poses. In other words, look forward with the cervical vertebra in line with the rest of the spine. Think of pulling the back of the throat upward and back in order to keep the neck/cervical spine long and in line with the spinal column.
Speaking of sensitive necks, headstand is a popular pose in many yoga styles. While it is accessible and fun, many physical therapists warn that the cervical spine is not built to hold the load of our bodies. It’s something to consider especially when equally beneficial alternatives exist. Try downward dog at the wall with hands on the floor and feet on the wall at hip height for a challenge or legs up the wall for a relaxing restorative.
Yoga asks each of us for radical self-acceptance. Practice in a way that feels good for your body.
Try a triangle pose with a neutral neck and bent front knee. Which one feels better?
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