Spring Cleaning for Yogis

A couple of weekends ago my friend and yoga teaching mentor, Chrissy Carter, held a three hour workshop at my neighborhood YogaWorks to clean up our standing poses. I remember having my mind blown when I learned in teacher training back in January that our pelvis wasn’t supposed to be squared to the side in trikonasana (triangle). BOOM. I’d been taught early in my yoga career to “pretend you’re in between two panes of glass” so I’d always been squaring my hips to the side. Same for ardha chandrasana (half moon). So, at the last minute, I decided to get up and go down to the studio for a reminder about these seemingly “basic” poses and two my teacher trainee friends showed up, too.

Here’s some of what I was reminded of:

Trikonasana:

  • Let your greater trochanter turn in a little bit – otherwise your femur is going to be running into your pelvis and you won’t be able to tilt your pelvis.
  • If you hinge your pelvis too far, you’ll be sinking your great trochanter into your hip joint. Ow.
  • Key actions include: front thigh turning out, back hip point rolls forward, rotate your torso to the sky.

Virabhadrasana 2: 

  • Your pelvis should be level. You can achieve this by swiping your front great trochanter downwards.
  • The back frontal hip point rolls forward so you can align your knee over your ankle.
  • The back leg appears to be internally rotating, but it’s neutral.
  • Key actions include: Back thigh rolling out while hip point keep rolling forward,  keep lifting your back thigh upwards, the weight in your front leg should be in the heel, not the toes.

Virabhadrasana 1:

  • It’s a neutral standing pose (because the front leg is neutral, duh).
  • The pelvis is in external rotation; it will never be squared forward.
  • Your back leg is externally rotated just a bit.
  • Key actions: Press the back thigh back by lifting your back inner arch while keeping your front knee over your front ankle; roll the back ribs forward.

Parivrtta Trikonasana:

  • Your pelvis IS squared forward in this pose because the stance is shorter so the stretch on your quad is less intense.
  • You can let your back thigh drop just a tiny bit.
  • But like the last two poses, aim to keep your back thigh bone moving backwards the entire time.

That’s just some of what we spent 3 hours on a Saturday reviewing. The whole concept of your back frontal hip point rolling forward while your back leg is externally rotating is still a mind blow for me, but I’m working on it.

I’m Kicking My Own Ass.

Does anyone remember what movie this is from? It’s from Liar, Liar. Such a funny movie that I watched a LOT of times growing up. I wonder if it’d stand up against my memories if I watched it now. Anyways, I digress. 

That’s how I feel whenever I go to my advanced-intermediate (Russian) vinyasa class on Monday (and sometimes Wednesday) nights. I call it Russian vinyasa simply because the teacher is Russian. She is one the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen and so, so strong.

Between my upheaval at work in November and the stress and business of the holidays, I started skipping this class in favor of less strenuous ones. As a result, I think I lost strength in some of my yoga poses. Now that I’m eating vegetables in place of a lot of carbs, I’m feeling better and like I want to get back to kicking my own ass at least once, preferably twice, per week. 

I need to add strength training into my regime as well. I do all this cardio with limited strength training. 30 chaturangas per class only does so much. 

I’m happy to be kicking my own ass again.