Tag Archives: flexibility

Have You Been Backbending in your Practice?

Back bends seem to be really polarizing in class.  Some people love them and drop back with ease while others feel scared, rigid, and closed in when attempting back bends.  I think there is an element of working through fear in our back bends. It requires an openness in the front of the body that we often avoid in daily life.  We have to work through feelings of fear as we fully expose the front of the body or take the head back.

When I haven’t been practicing deeper back bends for a while I forget how amazing it can feel afterwards.  I can feel a brightness in my mood and length through my whole spine. I did some deeper back bends this week, with a lot of focus on lengthening the spine, and am reminded just how integral a part of the practice they are.

I found this video as well which has some inspiring poses in it. The ever-underwear clad and terrific  Briohny Smyth shows us how it’s done.  She reminds us to create length in the lumbar spine, use core engagement, and find space for our back bend in the middle/upper back. If you are afraid of back bends, maybe try them at home in your smalls 😉

Yin Yoga Home Practice

Paul Grilley’s Yin Yoga book is a quick read and a lovely tool.  Having taken yin classes in the past, I picked up the book just the other day because I felt my more yang practice could use some balance.    So I have made yin part of my home/self practice.  And it is really easy to do because you hold the poses longer. It is challenging in the sense that you don’t necessarily feel like you are ‘doing’ anything. It is a quieter practice.

Simply put, most yoga is yang and deals with the muscles and tendons (energetically masculine).  Yin yoga stretches the ligaments and the fascia (energetically feminine).  Ligaments being much harder to stretch take time to access.  I find you have to hold the pose long enough for the muscles to switch off and then the pose really starts to deepen.  I feel as though in just two days I have gained flexibility and freedom in my hip joints.

It has been a really great addition to my home practice.  And felt I had to share!  here is a little video clip of Paul Grilley teaching some of the hip series and more on the theory of yin.

Namaste!

3 Reasons Men Should Try Yoga

1. Gain Flexibility In Your Hamstrings

Touching your toes, without hurting your back, is a pretty sweet benefit of going to regular yoga.  Not to mention it will help you sit more comfortably whether on a chair or the floor.  It will also give you more much needed range of motion for other sports and hobbies.

2. Strengthen Your Upper Body

By using your own body weight as resistance, yoga works your upper body including arms, chest, and shoulders.  You will gain definition and strength, without lifting a single weight.

3. De-stress

Both men and women live with stress.  But very often we handle it differently. According to WebMD we both produce the stress hormone Cortisol, but women produce far more of the anti-stress hormone, Oxytocin.  You men are getting short changed.  Yoga calms the nervous system and balances hormones, like Cortisol.

Reference:

http://women.webmd.com/features/stress-women-men-cope

Yoga and Hamstrings

Yoga helps you gain flexibility in your hamstrings which can aide sports performance, limit injury, and allow for healthy posture.  Because so much of yoga has to do with the orientation of the pelvis, the hamstrings are a key to going deeper in your asana practice.  They will give you access to the pelvic positioning required in most postures.  Your overall comfort and joy in yoga expands as these muscles loosen.  And for those who have never tried yoga, it is a great reason to get started.

Sports Performance

Your tight hamstrings not only keep you from touching your toes but could also be hurting your sports performance by limiting your range of motion and making you more prone to injuries such as tears, sprains, and strains.  Most sports will benefit from flexible and strong hamstrings because they require short powerful bursts of running and movement.

To stretch the hamstrings try Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog) aiming your heels back down onto the floor.

Posture

Hamstrings are related to the inability to have good posture while in a seated position, otherwise known as slouching.   Flexible hamstrings allow the bowl of your pelvis to sit upright, rather than tip backwards. The tightness of your hamstrings can tip your pelvis posteriorly.    This causes the natural curves in your spine to be compromised as flexion occurs.  So not only does it look bad, but it could be causing you damage and discomfort as well.

If you have tight hamstrings try Sukhasana (easy pose) with enough blankets under you to get your hips above your knees.  This will allow your spine to be erect and your head to sit comfortably above your shoulders.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of postures in yoga that will help you gain hamstring flexibility.  The ease developed from this flexibility will permeate through other areas of your life and inform day to day movements as well.