Yoga- Where do I start?

WARNING! Photos below may look scary… but let me explain!!!!

Do you ever see “really bendy” people on social media doing yoga poses and think… “I will never be able to do yoga”. “I’m not flexible”. “I’ve hurt myself trying to do that”.

Well, I would like to ease your mind and let you know that there are many safe ways to approach yoga! The first approach can be starting with beginner yoga poses. This can be a nice introduction to yoga as you learn the basics of a pose and modifications that work for your body. Think of it as a sport. You don’t run your marathon on the first day of training. Progression is key and everyone’s progression is different. While yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles, it’s also a great way to learn how to engage your muscles and learn the art of breathing.

 

Rule #1:

Keeping muscle engaged protects our joints, ligaments and other soft tissues.

When doing yoga consider all the joints. I like to start my focus on my feet and work my way up to the crown of my head. We will try this with “Mountain pose” or “Todasana”. While this may seem VERY beginner, it’s a great way to assess your body’s position and possible areas that may need work or more focus! This is also a pose you may begin your yoga session with or a pose to allow a reset or transition while practicing.

Todasana

Mountain Pose

 

Let’s get started!

 

 Feet

  • spread and lift toes
  • lift arches
  • “ground” feet
  • Place the heels directly behind second toe, rather than a “toes out or in” position
    • This protects our knee joint

*now ankle and lower leg muscle are engaged

Knees

  • ”lifting knee caps”, engaging the quadriceps and not allowing the knees to hyperextend
  • ”rotating the thighs from the hips”, finding neutral and not allowing knees to fall in toward the midline or outward (try aligning second knee cap with the 2nd toe)
    • *now the quads and upper leg are engaged

 Hips/Pelvis

  • finding neutral pelvis
  • we have the ability to tilt our pelvis front and back and side to side
  • finding equal weight bearing in our legs is the first step in “Todasana” and allows the pelvis to be level (pending there are no leg length discrepancies)
  • picturing the pelvis as a bowl is also helpful when tilting front to back
  • neutral hip and back positions help us engage our core more efficiently and protects the spine
  • the mental image of drawing the belly button in towards the spine is an excellent way of contracting the abdominal muscles and with an exhale you can exaggerate this contraction

*now the core is engaged

Shoulders/Shoulder blades/Rib Cage

  • our shoulder blades rest on our rib cage and are very important to the health of our shoulder movement
  • we have the ability to move our shoulder blades up, down forward and backward
  • at rest our shoulders should be down and away from our ears, retracted, and front ribs knitted in

*now scapulothoracic muscles are engaged with good posture

Neck

  • who hasn’t found themselves in a slouched position while working at a computer, texting on a cellphone or sitting on the couch?
  • Now that we have the rest of the body in proper alignment, the last piece is our neck!
  • “Lengthening the crown of the head towards the ceiling” can help us out of our rounded shoulder and forward head posture.
  • If you’re ever in a yoga pose that begins to hurt your neck you can always return to neutral head position.

*now the neck is in safe alignment

Keeping the body safe and healthy with a new activity

  • We have worked our way from toes to the crown of the head!
  • When in doubt return to these basic principals to keep your joints happy and healthy!
  • If you feel that a yoga position is causing pain there are always modifications! Look for my future blogs on yoga poses and how to modify!