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Yoga Anatomy and Alignment Blog

Yoga Anatomy to the People: a Manifesto

In case you haven’t noticed, yoga is undergoing a revolution. This revolution is a natural ricochet from dominant paradigms of physical asana practice that have included: 1) overly prescriptive alignment and/or 2) lack of alignment plus excess repetition, but that 3) in nearly all cases discouraged critical thinking, deviation from your teacher, and incorporating modern […]

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Any Yoga Pose Can Harm, Any Yoga Pose Can Heal

yoga injury, harm from yoga, is yoga good for you

One of the first principles of teaching anatomically sound asana is this: Any yoga pose can harm; Any yoga pose can heal. For example, Tadasana (Mountain Pose) can reinforce poor postural habits, or it can build strength. Headstand is likely to cause excess pressure on cervical vertebrae, but may also be a skillful way to […]

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The Hidden Pulling Actions in Chaturanga or The Problem is Never the Pose

Amid the growing awareness that yoga asana is not always an infallible and complete physical workout, has been a tendency to dismiss certain poses (for example: wild thing, sleeping pigeon, chaturanga) as culprits of injury. The real culprit In reality, the culprits of injury — no matter the physical pursuit — are excessive repetition of movement […]

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How to Be a Mermaid: Smart Sequencing for Naginyasana

Want this sequence in a pretty, printable 1-page PDF? Click here for access.   One of the loveliest of yoga poses is Naginyasana, Mermaid pose. It’s a variation of the ever-popular “Pigeon Pose” (eka pada raja kapotasana), so Naginyasana involves deep backbending and front hip opening. Although it is challenging, it’s fairly accessible. With the right preparation […]

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Three Elements of Intelligent Sequencing

Yoga Anatomy Academy is about to throw down (a.k.a. post) our first yoga sequence on this blog. We thought we’d preface it with a behind the scenes break-down of how we think through creating a sequence. There are as many ways to sequence a yoga class (or personal practice) as there are individuals practicing yoga, and we have so […]

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Why Do Teachers Say Don’t Jump Back to Plank?

To Jump Back or Not to Jump Back (to Plank) Jumping back is a exciting and athletic transition in vinyasa yoga. From standing forward fold (uttanasana) at the front of your mat, you have the option to step back to plank then lower to the yoga push-up (chaturanga dandasana) or to jump back. Some teachers or traditions offer the option to jump […]

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Why It’s Safer to Teach Headstand in the Middle of the Room (not at the wall)

I don’t teach it often in group classes, but it might surprise some readers that when I teach headstand (Sirsasana A), I first teach it in the middle of the room. Headstand is an introduction to vertical inversions. It’s appropriate for yoga students with good body awareness, upper body strength and moderate lumbopelvic control. Although practicing in the middle of […]

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7 Reasons Your Heels Don’t Touch the Floor in Downward Dog

lengthen achilles yoga

Have you been practicing yoga for a while, and feel frustrated that you can’t get your heels to the floor in downward facing dog pose? There are a few reasons why heels-to-floor may not be happening for you. First let’s remember that Downward Facing Dog demands a ton of joint motion: approximately 45 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion (top of […]

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On Balancing Our Shoulders in Yoga – Pulling and Posterior Chain Activation

yoga pulling

There is a conversation ruffling the feathers of the yoga world around the lack of “pulling” in yoga asana. In some instances, this topic gets mixed with talk of lack of “posterior chain” muscle utilization. Is this true? Can our beloved yoga asana be incomplete? Before diving any further, a huge assumption must be dismantled: If you look to yoga asana for […]

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Does Ashtanga Yoga Hurt Your Knees?

 The Ashtanga Primary series contains a number of poses in which the hips are externally rotated with the knee or knees in maximum flexion. (Examples include: lotus, lotus variations, janu sirsasana variations — including janu sirsansana C, which externally rotates the shin bone on the femur), one pose in which the knee is fully bent, and the practitioner sits to […]

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