07 Jan Ready to return to Yoga yet?
I’ll be honest, I just could not get on board with vinyasa/ashtanga Yoga at first. It took me by surprise because I thought (all those years ago) that Yoga was all about stretching and relaxing… I didn’t want to face my complete lack of upper body strength at the time or get sweaty doing Yoga. That wasn’t why I WENT to Yoga. At the time, I did a lot of running and went to classes purely to stretch and de-stress (and this definitely has its place). I also enjoyed the creativity of the philosophy that was woven into the classes. But that was it.
Yet here I am, 7 years later, teaching 12 classes a week from dynamic vinyasa to deep chill restore… and I pretty much love all kinds of Yoga. What changed? My attitude and curiosity towards the other elements and styles, plus having the time to explore this after university. The realisation that vinyasa gave me mental and physical strength I didn’t know I had and the resilience I needed to overcome the challenges of family illness at the time. And since then it’s been a balance; there are times when my body craves dynamic movement and I find myself pivoting around on my little finger (I wish! ;-)) and other times when most of my body is being draped over bolsters, blankets and blocks with no intention of moving for 10 minutes (this was actually harder to learn at first- the power of stillness). Anyone else relate?
I eventually discovered through vinyasa and ashtanga classes, how empowering, fun and playful Yoga can be as well as a resource for calm, by reaching that physical and mental edge. But it didn’t start like that. There are things we can do – specific techniques we can learn – that have the capacity to totally transform how me move and connect with our minds and bodies. It’s likely I wouldn’t have enjoyed the classes nearly as much, had I not learned these foundations of movement from my own teachers over the years and during trainings.
The workshop below is about understanding and utilising helpful techniques, that ultimately give us confidence and a greater sense of connection to our own body’s movements. Vinyasa isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly anyone who is choosing to practise vinyasa yoga could benefit from integrating some of the methods below.
This 2 and a half hours is about giving you access to tools that enable you to safely practise vinyasa sequences, adapting as you flow from one posture to the next with ease. We will learn the key principles of transitioning and discover the steps & techniques towards a smoother asana yoga practice.
Techniques include a practical break down of alignment in movements, using appropriate props to support this. For some of the movement drills we will draw on inspiration from functional movement/mobility (finding our truest range of motion) and ground reaction force & appropriate props to complement the vinyasa transitions we explore.
Breaking down movements- footwork/hand alignment, gaze/drishti, spine alignment, deep core activation
How can you create a softer landing with your feet (also in conjunction with Ground Reaction Force)? Do you roll or flip your feet? How can you use your fingertips to create space in stepping through? How can the position of the spine optimise your ability to transition with more space? NB: If I can find a way for us to slide along carpeted floors we will use integrate this into some standing poses to help us activate the deeper core- a key player in these transitions.
There is so much in the yoga world right now about the value of opening the chain (undoing the binds) and finding your truest range of motion. I first came across this in the early 2018 and since then have explored it in my own practice, with teachers close to home (Sophie Cleere) and afar (Annie Adamson, Noah Maze, Rocky Heron). But this is just the beginning! It feels pretty exciting to renew traditional yoga postures with our understanding of the body now (and important)! An example that many of us are familiar with is when we practise ‘baby cobra’ by lifting the hands away from the ground, which is essentially opening the chain and helping you to access the muscle strength in your upper back and shoulders. An invaluable technique many Yoga teachers have been using for years. This can be practised in pretty much all Yoga asana (try letting go of your foot in Natarajasana, Lord of the Dance). It’s also useful to bring into moving between postures- like in the video below where the ‘bind’ would be bringing hands to the ground and would require less muscle strengthening to transition. Going slowly initiates more good strengthening work for those muscles that move the bones and joints- not the other way around! Click on picture below to see an example of functional movement in a common vinyasa yoga transition.
What is Ground Reaction Force (GRF)?
“Newton’s third law states that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. A GRF is the force the ground gives back to you as you make impact. GRFs are measured with a device called a force plate. Higher impact sports have higher GRFs. Even though yoga is considered low impact, during the process of transitioning between poses, GRFs may creep slightly above Body Weight.”
– Jules Mitchell
How will GRF movement drills benefit our Yoga Practice?
They teach us how to work with the ground to find our feet, connect to our true centre of gravity (especially useful in trickier balances), and feel an upward movement of energy when meeting the ground with our bodies. In short, it helps us keep a spring in our step & balance when moving from one pose to the next. Understanding GRF can help prevent injury as we soon realise when we are not utilising that ‘positive recoil’ or ‘reaction’ and sinking too far into joints- it helps us find the infamous ‘edge’ that so many of us yoga teachers talk about. I’ve really enjoyed learning about this with Annie Adamson in her primal vinyasa classes and it has totally changed my approach to breath and movement in my own Yoga practice.
Annie Adamson (Primal Vinyasa) with danda stick using GRF for breathing
We will integrate some of these techniques into the workshop to explore:
– The Ujjai breath (ocean breath)
– Sun Salutations/Vinyasas and their common transitions
– How to step foot forward and back in lunges from Downward Dog & Plank
– How to move from plank to cobra or Plank to Chaturanga Dandasana to Upward-Facing dog
– The movements between balancing and standing postures (e.g. from half moon pose into side angle- see picture above.)
– The movements from Open to Square hip postures (high lunge to W2)
– The connection to our deeper core, which supports us in taking Vinyasas from the ground (with the option to jump-back).
Chaturanga Dandasana might forever be your life-long nemesis, but it doesn’t mean you have to keep going over the same movement patterns that are no longer serving you. Re-mapping is a key part of asana practice and helps us to understand our mental habit patterns too (are you a fast-mover, always thinking about what is coming next, or attached to the linear and repetitive movements you’ve grown used to?). It really does help us to get to know ourselves better, when we explore outside of these same patterns and apply new techniques to already familiar ground.
Still a few spaces left on this month’s workshop
Feet and Flow: Vinyasa Yoga Workshop
Sunday 27th January
2pm – 4:30pm
@ Aroma House, RG1 8NQ
~ All Welcome ~
Enjoy a healthy snack and drink at the end.
Early bird £25 until 10th January.
To book email firstname.lastname@example.org