MY FAVORITE CUESNew inspiring cue that revolves around the theme of the month each Wednesday. All content taken is taken down at the end of the month when new theme is posted.
MONTHLY THEME: Back Strengthening and The Posterior Chain
All cues are meant to be used when you're in full expression of the pose unless otherwise noted.
Salabhasana: The Foundation Way
Prepare to come into the pose on your stomach with your arms extended out long in front of you. Your feet will stay on the ground as you pull your elbows back as far as you can towards your heels and hug your elbows (hard) towards your body. Use the engagement of your shoulder blades drawing in (adduction) to hug your elbows in. Then, inhale just the chest up for the full expression of the pose.
Note: While the shoulders will naturally lift off the ground due to the fact that you’re coming into a backbend (spinal extension), most of the shoulder lift is coming from the shoulder blades drawing in and down (depression).
Eric Goodman explains that practicing Salabhana the Foundation way will “tighten your midback, and the position will pull you into forceful extension. This is a real strengthener that stabilizes the muscles at the base of the spine.” The key is using the shoulder blades and keeping your feet on the ground for this version of the pose. Reference the images below for a step by step guide to practice on your own.
Step 1: Starting position
Step 2: Shoulder blade engagement as arms lift
Step 3: Full expression of the pose as you inhale up
Step 4: Exhale as you let your chest relax back down
Foundation Decompression Breathing
Place your thumbs at the bottom of the ribcage and your middle fingers (or pinkies) at your hip points/ASIS (refer to the picture above). Before you begin breathing, find some upper back length by lifting the base of your skull up and away from your shoulders. The bottom of your chin should be parallel to the ground.
As you inhale, feel your ribcage expand three-dimentionally as your low ribs lift away from your hip points. With every inhale, try and increase the distance between your thumbs and middle fingers. With each breath, you want to feel your upper back ribs expand outwards, as if you’re filling out the shell of a turtle. Click here for this week’s Favorite Find on how to use a scarf/yoga strap to help get the necessary expansiveness in the back ribs.
As you exhale, keep your ribcage expanded and elevated as you pull your belly in and up, away from your waistband.
Kneeling Founder Pose (Variation of Child’s Pose)
Step 1: Begin in traditional child’s pose.
Step 2: Slide your hands by your hips as you lift your chest up. Your hips will lift off of your heels as your low back goes into extension.
Step 3: If your back feels okay, then reach your arms overhead as shown below.
Try pressing gently into your shins as you push your hips back and hinge forward at your hip crease. The idea is to feel a bit of tension at the low back to hold you in place.
To make the most of this child’s pose variation, work with decompression breathing (lifting the ribs away from the pelvis) to help create more space in your low back. If you missed the quick video on how to practice decompression breathing, click here. I’ve been using it a lot and love it!!
My Favorite Find this week is a 12-minute Foundation practice. I’ve been doing it every other day and find it challenging (in a good way)! The practice is made up of yoga poses you know and love with a focus on the posterior chain. Click below to check it out!
Salabhasana with Adductor-Assisted Back Extension
This is a version of week one’s pose. If you missed week one, you can check it out here.
Begin on your belly with your elbows bent and your palms on the floor under your shoulders. Your legs will be extended long on your mat behind you as if you were preparing for traditional locust pose. Start to squeeze your inner thighs, knees, and feet together as you lift just your chest off the floor. Remember to keep your neck long by looking down or slightly forward.
Maintain the squeeze of the legs and lift just your feet off the floor about six inches (see picture above). Your knees will stay on the ground as you continue squeezing them together, along with the feet and inner thighs.
If you’ve ever tried giving a student a block to squeeze between the legs to relieve tension in the low back, this concept provides similar benefits – more space, less lower back compression, and the ability to work back strength more comfortably and safely.
Finally, don’t forget about decompression breathing as you practice this variation! I know I keep saying it, but this technique is truly magic for me. It creates so much length in my low back which allows me to find more space as I come into my backbends. Did you miss my Favorite Find from week two on how to practice decompression breathing? No worries! Click here to discover this magical breathing technique.
If you want to know more about the “why” behind this adductor cue for backbends, click here for my weekly inspirations where you will also find my weekly song and quote.
***The cues I find and post are by well respected body experts and Doctors who teach yoga and other body nerds like myself.
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