We're thrilled to partner with our friends at YogaWorks to bring you the YogaWorks Teacher Training Tip of the Week. Each week, our friends from YogaWorks TT will break down some of the most challenging poses, as well as shed light on the basics, for all of us to enjoy. Like what you see? Click here for more info on YogaWorks' Teacher Training programs.
Unfortunately, the approach to this challenging pose is often less than enlightened, in part due to a basic lack of anatomical understanding.
In a YogaWorks Teacher Training, we explore the necessary ranges of motion that help a skillful yogi decide whether to attempt this type of posture, which involves deep external (lateral) rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket, and at the knee joint. If the hip joint is limited in its external rotation, the knee joint may be forced to rotate beyond its capacity, crushing and possibly tearing the cartilage (specifically, the medial meniscus) that cushions that same joint. Therefore, it’s crucial to examine these ranges of external rotation (often defined by skeletal structure rather than “tight” muscles) in less extreme postures, in order to determine whether Lotus is appropriate.
In the larger scheme of things, pushing beyond one’s capacity raises the issue of ahimsa, or non-harming, a central tenet of the YogaWorks Teacher Training program. Should we avoid any challenging posture because of the injurious pain it could possibly inflict? Or, should we always tackle the most difficult posture to maximize the potential for opening and strengthening our bodies?
Experienced yogis recognize that these two questions define a crucial, unique spectrum of choices in our lives, both on and off the mat. A YogaWorks Training simply illuminates that spectrum, giving its trainees the necessary tools to navigate this space with greater skill, compassion, and perhaps even a dose of…enlightenment.
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Yoga came to me only when I was ready to receive it. As a New York journalist fresh out of Brown University, I dabbled in a few yoga classes, and continued to do so after moving to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. But the yoga didn't take hold right away. As time passed, the movie business slowly dimmed my creative spark, and daily gym workouts had forged a muscular armor, stunting my freedom to move and breathe. I felt stuck. Something needed to shift, and I approached an Ashtanga-based yoga class at my gym with new eagerness. It was a revelation! The deliberate breathing and foreign-sounding postures slowly pried open my body, releasing years of unconscious tension and stress. When tears welled up in my eyes during a seated hip opener, it dawned on me: yoga went far beyond the body—it connected to my emotions, my intellect, even a long-buried sense of Spirit. Focusing heavily on asana, I pushed my physical practice to its limit, tearing my knee cartilage, thanks to over-ambition and sloppy alignment. Good timing led me to the YogaWorks Teacher Training, taught by Lisa Walford and Annie Carpenter, my soon-to-be mentors. Their depth of knowledge and life experience redefined my practice, literally from the ground up. The philosophy and meditative practices spoke to my innate beliefs about a true Self—or universal Consciousness—that exists beyond our narrow ego identities. I began to view yoga as a lifetime practice, one that transcends fitness or postures. Visit my website here.