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If you’re anything like me, some days you practice and you feel like you are on fire…and other days you can’t seem to hold a balance pose if your life depended on it! This week I have a 70-minute Triangle-focused practice for you that will prep your body so you have that “being on fire” feeling when you come into the pose. How? Before we practice Triangle, I’ll take you through a flow class that centers on opening your inner thighs and hamstrings. If you missed last week’s newsletter, we talked about the key role both of these muscle groups play in getting us into a Triangle pose that feels good! Click here to go right to my website for the class!!
If you missed last week’s newsletter where I talked about using a prep pose, Uptavistha Konasana, to assess inner thigh and hamstring flexibility for a better-feeling Triangle, click here.
Sending warmth to my friends in the Midwest!!
Here’s to a peaceful day ahead!!
This week we will be focusing on a great prep pose for Triangle – Upavistha Konasana. Not only can this seated pose make your Triangle feel better, it can also help with adductor and hamstring assessment for both tight and overly-open students.
If you have tight or overly-long hamstring muscles, Triangle pose may need a little work and attention. If you have tight inner thighs (adductors) and inner hamstrings (there are three hamstring muscles!), you may notice that in Triangle pose that your thigh turns in on the front leg and turns out on your back leg. This is very common for men. On the other hand, if you’re fairly open in your hamstrings, you may have a tendency to hyperextend the front knee and not use as much of the necessary strength of the legs. It’s not dangerous or bad to have tight or over-stretched hamstrings and both scenarios are common, but it is important to find muscular balance when practicing Triangle pose. These pictures should provide a good anatomy reference/refresher as we review today’s cue:
So, are you one of these – tight or overly-open? Come into Upavistha Konasana and notice…do your feet and knees turn out and is your low back rounding? If so, this is an indication that your inner thighs and inner hamstrings are tight.
If you notice that your knees and thighs roll in and that you can easily lower down into the pose, then your inner hamstrings may be overstretched. Again, we are striving for muscular balance so neither of these scenarios is ideal when practicing Triangle.
One inspiring cue:
Start by placing a rolled towel behind each knee in Upavistha Konasana. If you’re one of those people whose knees and inner thighs roll out (tight inner adductors and inner hamstrings), you’re going to use this cue:
Press the backs of your knees into the towels.
Doug Keller, a professor in the Masters Program in Yoga Therapy at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, explains that pressing the knees back can lengthen your inner thighs eccentrically because the “grip” of your gluteal muscles is softened with this action. You should notice that your pelvis isn’t as posteriorly tilted/tucked under and your knees and thighs are off the ground, Doug says to “catch your heels on the floor.” It is not necessary to fold forward, just work to balance out your pelvis and soften your glutes.
If you notice that your knees are rolling in and you can easily fold forward, here is your cue:
Press the backs of the knees into the towels enough to engage the inner hamstrings and long adductors. You can visualize pressing just to the inside of your sit bones. It’s almost the same cue, with a little more attention to pressing the inner/medial hamstrings into the towels.
Doug says, “the towels unlock the knees, resisting hyperextension, while at the same time grounding the sit bones and reducing the forward tilt of the pelvis. This allows the gluteals to work more evenly.”
Note: If you’re confused on where exactly you should be pushing into the towels from, I find that just by pressing the backs of the knees down, it balances out the pelvis…this goes for those with both tight and loose hamstrings.
After using these cues in Upavistha Konasana, your Triangle pose should feel better. Give it a try!
I’ve said it before…I am loving shorter practices a couple of times a week. Whether you add it on to another workout or decide you only want a half-hour practice, I have a class for you this week. If you’re in cold weather, I apologize in advance for the palm tree view – I am in Arizona for a few months. I say we all move here and start our own yoga community!
If you saw last week’s email, I showed a new way of coming into Triangle pose that I learned from Dr. Judith Hanson Lasater. And when I say new, I mean NEW! In my 30 years of teaching, I have never seen it taught this way. I received quite a few emails in response to last week’s newsletter saying how helpful it was. If you missed it, click here for a video I made explaining and demonstrating the cue.
This week’s 33-minute practice will take you through a flow with a focus on hamstring opening and work our way to THE NEW WAY OF PRACTICING TRIANGLE! Click here to go to my website for the class video. Enjoy!
Hello from Arizona! If you didn’t open last week’s email, I will be resending it so you can read about a couple of changes I plan on making over the new few months while I’m here. To sum it up, I may not be sending as many monthly emails and am going to try to “go with the flow” for the next three months.
Today I am sharing a cue and tip about Triangle pose from Judith Hanson Lasater’s latest book (pictured below). Judith has her PhD in Physical Therapy and has been teaching and studying the body for well over 40 years.
One inspiring cue:
Stand with your legs 4-5 feet apart, preparing for a Triangle pose towards your left. Begin with your feet facing forward (towards the wide part of your mat) and then turn your left foot out 90 degrees plus an additional 10-20 degrees. You can take a look at the picture below to see how to set up and then click on it to see a video I made that walks you through this cue.
Initially, your torso and right hip will be facing down slightly and, as you open up into the full expression of the pose, you can allow your right hip to open naturally (don’t force it).
Here is how Judith explains this cue in her book:
“When you start this pose with the feet and legs aligned as above, your pelvis must be turning with you. Your left pelvis is turning to the left completely, and your right pelvis is coming passively with you. Do not force the right pelvis to turn. You will likely overdo it. Rather, just allow the natural intelligence of the pelvis to assert itself, and your pelvis will turn just the right amount. Your trunk will be slightly turned to the left as well.”
Click below to watch this cue in action:
I have never seen or heard Triangle taught this way, and if I saw students practicing this in a class the way Judith is encouraging us to try, I would have corrected them. BUT, when I heard and understood the anatomy behind the cue, it makes complete sense! Judith explains, “you are simply allowing the natural and healthy movement of the acetabula over the femoral heads as it was meant to happen as you go into the pose.” (see pic 1 below) As with all cues, what works for one body may not work for another simply due to the fact that our bones are shaped differently. (see pic 2 below to see how different our femur bone/angle can be). If you’re an instructor and you have a student with hip pain/pinching in Triangle, this cue may offer relief. Give it a try!
That’s it for this week! If you missed my most recent 23-minute core class, click here to check it out! It’s a great add-on to any workout or just on its own!!