Anatomy

Hip and Hamstring Flexibility

Hamstrings and hips get a lot of stretching in yoga, because everyone wants to do Hanumanasana, and also get their feet behind their heads, preferably both feet at the same time. For many, this will never happen, precisely because they try so hard and focus only on one set of muscles without understanding the interlinking between the muscles of the hips, legs and lower back. Please refer to Lower Back Pain: Some Yoga-Related Causes for an explanation of these relationships.…

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Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice

There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter 1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic tilt 2. Hinging from the hips when folding forwards from a standing position or returning to an upright stance from a forward fold. 3. Arching the…

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How Hinging From the Hips Creates Weak Gluteal Muscles

Yoga practice usually starts with some form of Surya Namaskara and most sun salutations include moving from Samasthitih or Tadasasna to Uttanasana and back upright many times. These movements are often made by keeping the back straight and folding forwards at the hips, with the knees locked and rising back to vertical in the same position, lifting the head first. Keeping the back straight to bend forward involves a strong contraction of the Erector Spinae muscles and eccentric lengthening of…

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Anterior Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice

When the hip-bones tilt forwards, creating an arch (lordosis) in the lower back, you have anterior pelvic tilt, one of the main causes of lower back pain. Some people, mainly women, have a lower back that is naturally lordotic. This is due to the shape of their Sacroiliac joints, and is not necessarily painful or problematic. Anterior pelvic tilt is extremely painful when it is caused by muscle imbalance, mainly weak gluteal muscles. Some other symptoms of hip muscle weakness…

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A Word about Posture

A report my Eyal Lederman CPDO Online Journal (2010), March, p1-14. found that there was: • No proven link between posture and pain. • No proven link for lower back pain and: core strength, disc degeneration, hamstring or psoas tightness, SI joint, pelvic asymmetry, lordosis and kyphosis, muscle strength, trunk asymmetry. In fact Lower back pain can be better predicted by biological, psychological and social factors! Structure and pain is a common association to make. However, research into the subject shows…

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Adductors, the Pelvic Floor and Lower Back Pain

Pelvic floor contractions are used in Yoga as part of Pranayama practise – Mula Bandha. The pelvic floor also has an important stabilising function, as it controls the forward and backward movements of the Sacrum – these movements are also called Nutation and Counter Nutation. If the pelvic floor is tight and inelastic, the Sacrum remains tucked (Nutated) in all movements, which can contribute to lower-back pain because a lack of movement here can flatten the natural curve of the…

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Reciprocal Inhibition and the Hips

Reciprocal Inhibition is a process that the body uses to create movements. All movement is controlled by opposing sets of muscles, called Agonists or prime movers, and Antagonists that create the opposing force which returns the part being moved back to its original position. Movement is also aided by other surrounding muscles, called Synergists, and they mostly function as stabilisers, so that movement can occur in a controlled way. For example, if you wish to extend your knee, the Quadriceps…

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Sitting Up Straight and Expanding the Chest Forward in Sukhasana

Slumping the back and collapsing the chest is a common occurrence in Sukhasana, especially in those who are new to yoga. Factors that can contribute to this posture include fatigue, defeated mental state, and tight muscle groups. Many yoga poses are designed to counteract these factors, Sukhasana being one of them. Sitting up in Easy Cross-Legged Pose aids to bring the spinal column into alignment, so that the vertebral bodies and their discs support the torso; expanding the chest forward…

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Assessing Range of Motion in Downward Dog

Students who struggle with Downward Dog may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of four important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. Long Dogs and Short Dogs There are many subtle variations of Downward Dog but they can be approximately divided into two standard variations: Long Dogs and Short Dogs. Long Dogs are done by stepping further back with the feet. The arms and shoulders bear more weight…

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Assessing Range of Motion in Squatting Poses

Students who struggle with squatting poses may have limited range of motion (ROM) in one or more of three important joints. Learn how to assess your students’ ROM and help them modify their poses. There are three major joints to consider when teaching a Squat: the hip, the knee, and the ankle. If any one of these three joints is limited in its range of motion (ROM), then any of the squatting poses will be awkward and uncomfortable. You can…

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