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Back Bending: From Pain to Bliss

I often hear a sigh of disgruntlement when I introduce the first backbend in a yoga class. Back bending is demanding, and sometimes it even hurts.
But it shouldn’t—at least not for most.
Why does a backbend hurt? There are a lot of possible reasons. For some, the muscles of the back are simply imbalanced. One side is stronger, so it pulls the spine shorter faster causing it to rotate and put pressure on the joint on that side. Similarly, tight muscles on the front side of the body can prevent back bending.
For others it could be the boney architecture of the spine simply won’t allow deep back bending, but the student is convinced with effort and eagerness, s/he can force it to go further. Still yet, others may have injury or degeneration in the spine. Some have poor alignment. With some effort and energy focused on muscling into the pose, it’s easy to do!
Try these tips to reconfigure your backbend on a path towards bliss.
Tip #1:
When pressing into a backbend, be sure to plant your foundation and hold it as you transition up into the pose. Your foundation is your hands and your feet. Often times, students turn their feet out and move their hands just as they are pressing up. That’s like moving the footer of a building as your trying to pour the concrete foundation. Not good!
Tip #2:Come up onto your heels. This will create more space for your lumbar spine and you might just be able to straighten your arms or be pain free for the first time. If that doesn’t work, try putting your feet on some blocks.Enjoying learning these tips?If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program. In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. Our next program starts soon and applications are being accepted now.
Love and brilliance,

Laurel Signature

 

How to Get Those Cranky Hamstrings to Let Go!

The single biggest flexibility challenge I hear students’ complain about is there hamstrings.  Here is how to get those cranky hamstrings to let go!

If you sit at work long hours, drive in the car and most of your physical activity involves some form of walking or running, and you’re of legal age, you have the perfect recipe for tight hamstrings! Add a little stress and you have a trifecta.Stress makes muscles tense—preparing them for fight or flight—whether the stress is a deadline or a difficult yoga pose.If you practice a stressful yoga pose without consciously calming yourself, your muscles—including your hamstrings—will tense up!

Tip #1:

Back off and breathe. Make sure the intensity of the stretch on a scale of 1-10 is a level 6 or 7, no more. When you push too far or too fast into a stretch, special nerve sensors in the muscles send signals to the brain telling it to contract the muscle to prevent it from tearing.

Put simply, if you push to hard too fast, you’re just making the job harder.

Tip #2:

Direct the stretch into the belly of the hamstring. If you feel pulling or stretching directly behind the knee or near the sitz bones, you’ll want to redirect it. Start by bending the knee(s) a little and then dog-tilt the pelvis. You may not go any further, but I guarantee you’ll feel the stretch in a whole new healthy way!

Enjoying learning these tips?If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program. In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. Our next program starts soon and applications are being accepted now. 

Love and brilliance,

Laurel Signature

How to Handle Conflict Like a Yogi

I think it’s fair to say that we all hate conflict. Yet, it’s a part of life we all face at times. Some of us are better at avoiding it than others. When conflict arises—we don’t agree with our spouse or how our boss is treating us—we avoid it.

Sometimes conflict can be about the little things. But what I’m talking about here are the bigger things. Things like when you are really upset, frustrated, hurt or angry. How to handle conflict like a Yogi?

Usually in these situations, the first response is no response. We put up and shut up, as the saying goes. We keep our unhappiness to ourselves, and possibly gossip about the person we’re upset with. Or, we may even chide ourselves for feeling the way we do.But as the conflict arises again and again, the hurt, frustration and anger accumulate inside.What do to?Thankfully the yoga teachings give us clear guidance and tools. In fact, it’s extensive. I’ll share with you a few key tips here.

Tip #1:

Don’t ignore yourself! Pay attention when you feel hurt, disappointed, angry, frustrated or annoyed with a person. Don’t just brush it under the carpet. What event triggered the feelings? Write it down. Allow yourself to own your feelings, no judgment. Resisting or denying them doesn’t make them go away. It only makes them grow bigger and stick around.

Tip #2:

Do a little self-reflection. Why is the event causing these feelings? Don’t censor. Are you upset because a boundary was crossed? Is there something you need to say or do?Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program. In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. Our next program starts soon and applications are being accepted now.Then hop on over to my blog and let me know how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel Signature