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When Yoga Goes Wrong: Common Yoga Posture Mistakes That Can Hurt You

pain relief posture stretching

I looove yoga, y'all.

In this video, I explain the basics of cat/cow pose.  The undulation of the spine - done with specific muscle control - is the BASIS of yoga breathing. 

Yoga without breathing is NOT yoga.  It's just stretching.  

I've been doing yoga since the 80s (what?!), and have had the pleasure (and sometimes pain) of seeing the gradual integration of yoga into Western culture. 

My own practice evolved over time.  I've gone through middle and high school, college and graduate school, had 2 kids, and started a business since my first Sun Salutation.  I've gone from barely able to touch my toes, to doing a (unexpected) split!  (side, not middle - I'm not that flexible!)  Then along the way, losing some flexibility and now, getting it back again.  

Yoga has the ability to heal.  This I'm certain of. 

However, unfortunately, it has the ability to hurt as well.  

But not if it's done with proper form.  

Let me show you what I mean -

Besides being a beautiful photo, this kneeling lunge could use a few tweaks. 

When I'm in a yoga class and I catch a glimpse of other people in a kneeling lunge, I see a lot of folks struggling with balance. 

The reason why is - there's no stable base. 

The stability in this pose comes from the lower part of your core, the "bandha" that's at your perineum.  It's also called the "pelvic floor," and is closely connected with the lower abdominal muscles.  

When the 2 sides of your hips slide away from each other, the perineal core loses its strength.  And you lose your balance. 

Instead, think about the front of the hip bones both equally forward.  You may need to draw one side back a bit.  From there, breathe up into your spine in a lifting movement.  Similar to the cat/cow, no? 

Also, it's harder to engage the middle part of the core, the transverse abdominals, without that stable base.  This is why her back has such a (beautiful and yet) painful sway in it.  Sure it looks cool, but at the expense of your back?  Not worth it!

In this Upward Facing Dog pose, the woman has good abdominal core strength which allows her to lift up strongly without hurting her lower back.  

However, her shoulders are falling out of alignment.  They're not staying down and back.  If she lowered her torso a bit, and engaged more into the shoulder blades going down and back,  it would probably feel a lot better on her shoulders, neck, and chest.  

This is what yoga teachers mean by "lift your heart to the sky."  But I hate putting it that way.  It's so open to interpretation.  "Lift my heart to the sky??!! Wha?"  

Also, it does nothing to explain what the heck to do with your neck and shoulders.  It should be more specific to posture, IMHO. 

Since the shoulder engagement has been lost, her neck is not ready to take on any sort of lengthening situation.  However, she's throwing her head into it anyway, which just hurts me to see.  Ouch!  Better to keep the neck in line with the rest of the spine.  

 

When you're doing a side bend like this, it's better for both sides of your hips to root down equally.

From there, use all your spinal muscles to reach UP, and then over.  It comes first and foremost from the mula bandha (root chakra/perineum core/lower abs).  Similar, again, to cat/cow???  Sensing a theme???

It shouldn't be a passive, "ok, let's bend to the side" kind of thing.  It's more of a lengthening up and then seeing if we can use the strength on the lengthening side to REACH over.  But the UP first is important.  

Leaning over to the side without lifting through the spine crunches your internal organs.  Lifting up and over stretches and massages your insides. 

Let me know your thoughts!

If you want MORE detail on yoga, posture, and how HEAL YOUR BODY, read about Qi Power Hour.  It's my monthly membership program.  There's TONS of info in the QPH Library (including the full workshop on Yoga Posture) to help you achieve your pain relieving goals.  Plus, it includes 2 monthly workshops where I work with you on nutrition, pain relief, stress relief, and other rotating topics.  

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