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.
We spend a lot of time driving and working on computers which leads to very tight hips and hamstrings. In order to prevent injuries, it’s important to warm up these muscles groups, especially before playing sports where we might be working with sudden or rapid acceleration.
This week’s video focuses on opening the hips and lengthening of the hamstrings and the calf muscles.
In YogaWorks Teacher Trainings we examine the anatomy of all the muscles and explore the full range of motion of the joints. We teach our students what areas of the body are affected by various surrounding muscle groups. When we learn a pose, we also learn the risk factors of them so that we can offer modifications and adjustments for every body type based on their specific muscle openness or tightness.
For example, if a student has tight hamstrings and we are instructing them into a seated forward fold, we may encourage him/her to bend the knees to allow the hamstrings to open slowly, to enable more of a lift and extension in their torso and spine, versus straightening the legs and pulling and straining their low back. We also offer modifications through the use of props. We might offer this student a strap to go around the feet to encourage more length in their torso and a lifting of the pelvis as they fold versus a collapsing of the chest and a pulling and rounding of the back. Or we may even sit them up on a block.
Different bodies will need different methods to move safely and effectively into a pose.
It’s important to note that we need to honor our individual bodies in our yoga practice and do what feels good, not practice something that feels straining. When practicing, place close attention to the sensations in your body and try to avoid working from a place of ego, this way you will avoid injury. Observation of the mind and the ego is a good practice, not just in the classroom, but also out on the field!
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.