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Yoga Anatomy and Alignment Blog

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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Why Bridge Pose is NOT the Best Prep for Deep Backbends

Bridge pose, a.k.a. setu bandasana or setu bandha sarvangasana, can be used in a physical asana practice for a number of distinct purposes. For example, a physical therapist or personal trainer might use it to strengthen gluteal muscles, quads, hamstrings or lower back muscles, just to name a few possible targets (with small tweaks to the exercise […]

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Should You Keep Your Shoulders Back and Down?

arrow action of scapula in adho mukha svanasana

Check out the Heal Your Shoulders episode of the Yoga Talk Show podcast where Yoga Anatomy Academy founder Dr. Ariele Foster chats with Yoga Body founder Lucas Rockwood in more detail on the subject of the shoulder in yoga. Ever heard the cue “Keep your shoulders back and down”? This action can be helpful during many yoga poses, but […]

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How to Lift the Arch of the Foot

lift the arch of the foot, flexor hallicus brevis, posterior tibialis, tibialis posterior, yoga, yoga teaching, cues, medial arch

One of the most common cues heard in yoga classes is “lift the arch of the foot”. To some, this action comes naturally, and / or makes kinesthetic sense. To others, not so much. We’d like to clear something up before going on: there are all kinds of learners out there, and all kinds of […]

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Should Your Spine Be Shaped Like a J?

yoga anatomy workshop lumbar spine, SI joints, and pelvis - sacroiliac stability, alignment

Should we have a J-shaped spine? NPR aired this story back in June: “Lost Posture: Why Some Indigenous Cultures May Not Have Back Pain,”. It went viral (at least in the Facebook feeds of physical therapists, yoga teachers and the like). The piece shares the perspective of Esther Gokhale, an acupuncturist who, after suffering severe back pain […]

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What’s so special about Psoas?

Psoas is a deep lumbo-pelvic muscle that can curl us into the protective fetal position or quickly engage to hurl us forward in a run. There are fascinating articles out there on the emotional role of this muscle, but I’m here to talk about its biomechanics in yoga asana. Psoas is a multi-articulate or multiarticular muscle — one that […]

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