Articles

How to safely Bend backwards

Simon Borg-Olivier Baddha Hasta Janu Simhasana Synergy sequence

Most modern adults tend to have very stiff middle backs (usually from about the tenth thoracic vertebra (T10) to the fourth lumbar vertebra (L4). This region (T10-L4) is stuck in a slight forward bend (spinal flexion) in many modern adults. These people usually do most of their bending backwards (spinal extension) from the very lowest part of the mobile spine at junction between the fifth lumbar vertebra and the first sacral vertebra (L5-S1). L5-S1 is usually located about 2 centimetres below the top of your hips (iliac crests).

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This Body

Norman Blair Yin yoga

It began on the first Saturday of August. A busy day with many commitments. In the afternoon I was feeling a bit unwell – nothing too serious. I mused to myself that perhaps it was too much cake and too many cappuccinos. The Sunday was also full. In a morning training session, I remember saying “I am feeling pretty ropey”. In the afternoon, there was a workshop that I was leading.

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Kundalini, Chakras, Prana and Two Real Intertwining Snakes

Kundalini

In this blog I want to discuss some points about Kundalini energy and Chakras. Much of the information available on the subject of Kundalini is esoteric and so not easy to justify with rational conventional science. I think the best explanation of the science of kundalini comes from Jana Dixon and her excellent book ‘The Biology of Kundalini”. The main purpose of this blog is to elucidate a few simple points that relate to the physical locations of the chakras and how controlling these can help you to improve the health of your spine, your internal organs and your circulation.

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Mula Bandha and Float Backs

Matthew Sweeney Jump

The classical (historical) definition of MB, as I understand it, goes something like this: The practice of Mula Bandha directly causes the awakening of the 3 1/2 coils of the serpent Kundalini, initially dormant at the Muladhara Chakra, which unravels its knots (3 and 1/2 coils representing the three Granthi and one last twist representing sublimation that lies beyond the three representations of the Guna), piercing the tailbone, up the golden thread of the Sushumna Nadi to the Manipura Chakra. If this occurs during an Asana class then I am surprised!

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Moving Towards a Sattvic Life

Sattvic life

What does being sattvic actually mean? According to Ayurveda, sattva is the quality of nature that brings about balance, peace, Sattvic lifepurity and clarity. It is one of the three subtle qualities or ‘gunas’ that exist in all of nature. The other two qualities are rajas and tamas, rajas being the quality of energy, movement and transformation that creates imbalance in life, while tamas being the quality of solidity, heaviness and stagnancy that creates inertia. If we want to become healthy or to maintain good health using an Ayurvedic approach then, without doubt, moving towards a sattvic life is a key element in this process.

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Why I don’t Chant, Part 2: Tradition and Self Authority

Last week I published an article titled “Why I don’t Chant”, in which I explained some of the reasons that I don’t use the Ashtanga opening and closing mantras in my classes or in my personal practice.As expected, I received mixed feedback on the article. Some people expressed that it resonated with them deeply, while others felt that by omitting the chant I was failing to do proper justice to the tradition.

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Why I don’t chant

chant

I am often asked why I don’t lead the traditional opening and closing mantras in my Ashtanga Led and Mysore style classes.When I read the above quote from Indian classical vocalist Bombay Jayashri, I was reminded of some of the reasons for this.This quote from a musician reminded me of my yoga practice because Indian classical music and Ashtanga vinyasa yoga share some common features: An Indian Classical raga has strict structural rules that need to be followed by the performer, just as there is a strict vinyasa count and sequence to be followed in the Ashtanga system. In both practices surrender to this structure is essential to access some of the aspects of self-encountering.

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Yoga Therapy for Hamstring Injuries

Monica Gauci Purvottanasana

If you’ve ever had an injury at your hamstring injury, you will know about it! You’ll go from comfortable forward bending one day to dramatically restricted, often painful forward bends the next day. This injury occurs where the tendon of the hamstring muscle knits into the membranous lining of the bone, the periosteum. In this case it is where the periosteum covers the ischial tuberosity or sit-bone. Often this is not a tear of the tendon itself but an avulsion, where the periosteum has been pulled or torn away from the bone.

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Thoughts on Deepening an Authentic Yoga Practice

Iain Grysak sitting

Authentic yoga practice is an exploration in relationship. One who is practicing yoga as sadhana (rather than yoga as entertainment) has a relationship with their teacher, a relationship with the practice method or tradition, and most importantly a relationship with the self.

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Putting the Curve Back in Your Neck (Saving Your Neck 3)

Monica Gauci parsva janushirsasana

Although we usually think and talk about muscles as being weak or strong, closer to the truth is that muscles are usually inhibited or facilitated, respectively. Inhibition is when neural input (from our nervous system) to the muscle has been down-regulated. Facilitation is the opposite, when neural input to a muscle is excessive or up-regulated. Facilitated muscles are often those muscles compensating for the loss of input into a movement pattern that should come from the muscle that is inhibited.

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