This week's theme was humanity flow. Yoga is more than alignment and the outer shape of the pose. The yoga is how we feel once we're in the pose. Through yoga we connect with our humanity and then we can share our humanity with those around us. Our hearts connect. I think that's a big part of the healing and joy of the practice, and what makes it so powerful, intimate and connecting. You get to come back to your heart again and again.
So, we focused on heart opening poses this week: backbends. But not a practice of building toward a few bigger backbends at the end of practice. We focused throughout on cobra, locust, sphinx and eventually supta virasana with yogis exploring a closing backbend of their choice.
Aligned shoulders are a big part of feeling good in backbends. Shoulders can be tricky & vulnerable. In a vinyasa flow class, students commonly strengthen the pushing muscles on the front of the shoulders more through poses like plank, chataranga, and up dog. Often what is needed is to strengthen the complementary pulling muscles inside the scapula (shoulder/wing bones on your back). When we get injured, often a common component of an injury is doing too much of one thing and not enough of another.
I had students focus on strengthening the pulling muscles on their upper back; the muscles between the scapula & the spine. In our flows, we warmed up with locust, sphinx and variations of cobra instead of up dog. While there is nothing wrong with up dog, for this practice I wanted to offer students tools to warm up and strengthen their pulling muscles. When students learn better technique there is less risk and they get stronger faster.
Another pose that helped deepen this learning was warrior 2. We did warrior 2 with are arms overhead and light fists with our hands. Then I asked students to feel like they were doing a pull-up, and very slowly pull their elbows down and out until they reached shoulder height. I encouraged students to try and keep the activation of their inner shoulder muscles as they straightened their arms parallel to the floor. To round out our practice, we had fun with some core work, balancing and twisting and going upside down in handstand. Namaste, Lynn