SLEEPING DURING YOGA, PRESSURE POINTS AND YOGA NIDRA

Is it normal to sleep during yoga?

Being someone who has the tendency to fall asleep when not doing something of a certain engagement level can create a fair few problems. Dozing off during class comes across as disrespectful and uninterested although this is not the case for me! I’ve faced this issue from as early on in my life as I can remember. Maybe it’s a combination of growing up in an era where media is causing attention span to decrease, maybe it’s a genetic disorder, I don’t know.

It is close to the end of the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course and I have fallen asleep during Shavasana almost after the end of each practical class. I have also fallen asleep while holding various sitting and supine poses. So I research about whether it is normal to sleep during yoga and it is completely normal! (Phew.) It also shows that you are in a state of relaxation, a goal of yoga practice.

However, if like me, you would like to not fall asleep during yoga, here are some recommended poses.

5 POSES TO PREVENT FALLING ASLEEP:
Breath of Joy (Pranayama)
Upward-Facing Salute – Urdhva Hastasana
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Reverse/Exalted Warrior Pose – Viparita Virabhadrasana
Dancer Pose – Natarajasana

Besides these poses, I feel like inversions also help me to feel more awake. Although I still sleep in class, I don’t think that this is an issue that can be resolved overnight and other measures need to be taken as well. First and foremost, ample sleep. Secondly, a classmate of mine who practices qigong shared with me her knowledge regarding pressure points, saying that pressing firmly onto certain pressure points on my body would aid with my blood circulation and hopefully help me stay awake during class. This is similar to the concept of chakras that we are taught in yoga. Apologies to my non-Mandarin reading friends but I’m sure a quick Google check can provide you with information!

Image result for 人体经络网 足阳明胃经

Any points showed on the red and blue lines pressed during 7 to 9 in the morning would be the most effective.

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There are three indentations at the back of our head, those are also pressure points that are easily accessible to be pressed by ourselves to help relieve fatigue.

Yoga is about going with the flow and not fighting our body’s desires and signals.

Do note that sleep and yogic sleep (aka yoga nidra) is different. Yoga evaluates the overall state of the mind and body by the relative proportion of three inherent qualities: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Sattva is associated with calm awareness. Rajas is the principle of movement and activity. When out of balance, it can lead us off on mental tangents and manifest in the body as twitches and jerks. Tamas is the force of gravity and gives a sense of groundedness. In excess, it can be felt as a restrictive heaviness, dragging the conscious mind into sleep. Falling asleep during relaxation practices is usually a sign that the quality of tamas is excessive or the quality of rajas is deficient. The practice of systematic relaxation requires a balance between rajas and tamas so that we are grounded and comfortably present in the body, but at the same time alert and mentally attentive. When both conditions are present, our consciousness can rest in sattvic self-awareness.

This Sattvic self-awareness can be achieved through yoga nidra, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping that occurs during the stage where we enter deep sleep. The yogic goal of both paths, deep relaxation (yoga nidra) and meditation are the same, a state of meditative consciousness called samadhi.

I hope my post has been reassuring and informative to those who face the same problem as I do!

Body proportions in asana practice

If you struggle with a particular asana, your yoga teacher will typically encourage you to keep practicing the pose itself as well as a number of complementary exercises that build strength, flexibility, and stamina. In my experience, the general belief seems to be that, with enough effort, anybody can perform any asana. Consequently, depending on your level of self-discipline, you either practice with a vengeance or avoid the respective pose until you’re put in a situation where you absolutely have to get it right, like the 200 Hr yoga teacher training (smile). In my case, one pose I’ve always struggled with is Salamba Sirsasana I (headstand supported on the forearms).

 

Sirsasana is a pose where the serratus anterior, rotator cuffs and deltoids contract concentrically to rotate the scapula upwardly and stabilize the shoulder joint, while the triceps brachii contract eccentrically to resists elbow flexion. To relieve pressure in the neck and elongate the spine, one should also activate the spinal erector and multifidus muscles close to the spine. In layman terms, you should push your forearms into the ground until you feel your head slightly lifting off the mat.

 

I am able to get into Salamba Sirsasana II (Tripod Headstand) with relative ease and feel fairly comfortable in the pose (despite its complexity, Sirsasana is considered a resting pose, so it’s important that your body is able to relax in this position), but Sirsasana I has always been a losing battle for me. No matter how forcefully I press my shoulders away from the ears and the forearms into the mat, my neck is still compressed and the pose feels extremely uncomfortable. I’ve been putting that down to lack of shoulder and triceps strength and while yes, those areas could definitely benefit from strengthening, they serve me quite well when it comes to Sirsasana II, so something just doesn’t quite add up. At the same time, during the YTT I noticed that, while many of my peers could comfortably place the heel of their palms on the ground in Dandasana, my palms couldn’t touch the floor without my compromising the length in my spine. And so, one day I suddenly thought of examining my body proportions and I noticed two things. Firstly, my shoulders are very narrow, so even with the best effort to broaden the shoulders in Sirsanana, there’s just not a lot to work with. Secondly, I have relatively short arms, a long neck and an oblong head, so if I bend my arm and bring my triceps next to my ear, my elbow is below the crown of my head. By a simple logical deduction, it’d be pretty hard for me to avoid compressing the neck in Sirsasana.

 

Then I wondered whether I’m a freak of nature or there might be other yogis out there facing the same issue, so started browsing the net for related posts. Alas, I came across quite a few interesting articles on the impact of body proportions on proper (and comfortable) asana execution (after all, according to the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali verse 2.46, comfort is an important aspect of asana practice).

 

In a nutshell, my research rendered two main points:

 

  1. If your arms are relatively short in relation to your waist, you will benefit from the use of blocks, straps, or boosters to help “extend” the arms in asanas that require reaching for the floor. So, in the case of Sirsasana, for example, you could place your head on the mat but your forearms on folded blankets to artificially “create” length in the arms or you could place a block behind your head to the same effect. When it comes to Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose), your short arms may not only present a challenge in achieving the desired spinal arch but may also cause considerable pressure in the lower back, since your spine and arms are farther from the floor. To resolve this, you could rest your palms on yoga blocks instead of the floor.
  2. If, on the contrary, your arms are relatively long compared to your waist, you may need to bend your elbows slightly in asanas that originally require straight arms in order to maintain proper alignment.

 

Back to my Sirsasana nightmare: I tried using a folded mat under my forearms and, while I am still struggling with the pose, at least it doesn’t feel like my head is being pushed into my trunk and my neck is about to snap, so the solution is effective in my case.

 

This incident has prompted me to reflect on how props are generally perceived in yoga classes.  In my observation, they’re often equated with a temporary crutch to be used while working on improving strength and flexibility and there’s a certain stigma attached to them, which causes some students to force themselves into misaligned asanas and risk injury rather than use a prop. Perhaps our thinking should shift to viewing props as a permanent fixture for those of us who need to compensate for less than ideal anatomical proportions. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that one should stop striving for improvement. I believe that hard work and discipline are essential to mastering asana practice, but your skeletal structure is something you can’t really change. As a yoga student, I hope to see more teachers guide struggling students through working with props to make up for less than ideal skeletal structure in addition to encouraging them to keep practicing in order to build strength, flexibility, and stamina. As an aspiring yoga teacher, I intend to undertake further research on how proportions impact certain asanas so that I’m able to advise my future students accordingly.

 

 

Sources:

Chrissy Carter, Headstand: A Practice, https://chrissycarter.com/headstand-a-practice/

Illonka Michelle O’Neil,For All My Yogis With Short Arms, https://www.yogiapproved.com/yoga/why-i-use-yoga-props/

Nicole DeAvilla,Helping Students Master the AsanasPart 2 of 3: Proportion (or, How to Teach Your Students Not to Look Like the Picture in the Book),  https://www.expandinglight.org/free/yoga-teacher/articles/general/helping-students-master-the-asanas2.php

Peg Mulqueen, Size Matters, https://loveyogaanatomy.com/size-matters/

Stephanie E-R.Y.T. 500,Dirgha Kala: A Study of Light on Yoga, Proportion Matters,http://dirghakala.blogspot.com/2014/08/proportion-matters.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

The king of asanas

The Headstand often called the ‘king of asanas’. What has earned it that title is because to master it requires focus to your balance and alignment that heightens your sensitivity and stability and the strength and the willingness to literally turn yourself upside down. It’s a pose that requires courage and it’s only once you muster that courage, can you reap in the numerous benefits.

Here are some of them:

It’s the elixir of youth
Going Into a headstand and letting your skin hang in the opposite direction can provide an instant ‘facelift’. The inversion also flushes fresh nutrients and oxygen to the face, creating a glowing effect on the skin.

It resets and improve blood flow
When you’re doing an inversion, oxygenated blood flows the other way. It can flow straight to the brain improving focus and mental clarity or to the eyes, improving eyesight. It also increases blood flow to the scalp, which in turn improves nutrient delivery to your hair.

It relieves stress
Combined with slow, long breaths, it’s great for when you’re having anxiety, stress or fear. It also works on your adrenal glands which are responsible for the release cortisol or adrenaline- stress hormones.

It’s great for hormone balance
Aside from relieving stress, the headstand stimulates and provides oxygenated blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands which are considered the master glands that regulate all other glands in the body (thyroid, pineal, and adrenals).

It’s great for strengthening shoulders, arms and abs
The headstand uses a lot of muscles to firstly get you up then keep you up. Strengthening these muscles are also great for improving upper body strength and muscular endurance.

It improves digestion
When the effects of gravity are reversed, it helps relieve trapped gases, improve bloodflow and remove waste from the digestive system.

 

“The best way to overcome fear is to face with equanimity the situation of which one is afraid,”

B.K.S. Iyengar says in his section on Sirsasana in Light on Yoga

Pelvic floor muscles and Yoga

Pelvic floor muscles and Yoga

Early in life, we automatically learn to use most of the muscles in our body. We learn to walk and to coordinate the actions of all muscles in our legs and pelvis. There are however some muscle groups that we may never learn to use correctly such as our core muscles, in particular, the M. transversus abdominis, a stabilizer in the abdominal muscles or the pelvic floor muscles.

As a physiotherapist, I have treated many people, especially women over 40, post pregnancy and childbirth or patients with obstipation problems, overweight or those whose professions require heavy lifting, which have a weak pelvic floor. Like all muscles in the body, the pelvic floor requires regularly training in order for it to remain strong.

 100 times a day tighten the pelvic floor muscles it`s training !!!

Unfortunately, many people do not know how to engage their pelvic floor muscles and they use their gluteal muscles instead.

For a physiotherapist, it`s difficult to determine whether a patient has activated this muscle group as it cannot be viewed externally. However, simple yoga exercises can help a patient locate their pelvic floor muscles. This can be achieved by lying on one’s belly (Crocodile pose) or sitting down (Sukhasana) and focusing on one’s breathing, as the pelvic floor moves in synchrony with the diaphragm.

Although it takes time to feel this muscle group, there are many yoga poses and variations which strengthen the pelvic floor such as the bridge pose (sethu bandhasana). Essentially, any yoga pose where one sucks in one’s belly such as chair pose, warrior, boat pose, as well as many Pranayamas, activate the pelvic floor.

what kind of body does yoga build

The practice of Asana is not just working out the body’s soft tissue; it is also not just stretching and strengthening muscles. Although body exercise do burn fat and build muscles. But Yoga, along with conscious breathing, exercises a complete system of the entire body changing the body from inside out. Based on my own experience of Yoga practice, I found several obvious changes to my body.

1. Maintaining the ideal body weight is easy.
I don’t need to control my diet. I basically eat whatever I want. But as I practice Yoga, my body system will make an automatic adjustment. The taste and hobbies of my diet will gradually unconsciously favor the healthy food. But this process is not the same as conscious diet control.

2. Big improvement of flexibility
After a few years of practice, although I still have a “hard” body, I do feel my body opens up a lot more that it did before Yoga. For example, I couldn’t imagine I manage to do the front split now.

3. Strength and Stamina
One of the most beautiful sides of Asana practice is to use all the muscles of the body. Gym exercise is mostly isolated out to work on a group of partial muscle such as arm to raise dumbbells to practice biceps. But even with the arm, there are many small muscle to activate. The power of Asana allows you to hold the weight of whole body while standing your hands and using your arms to balance the weight of whole body. It needs coordination and activation of the whole body, not just the strength of individual bid muscles. yoga postures also teach us to stay in uncomfortable situations, to find peace and relaxation in the nervous system. This mind controlling is more powerful than muscle stretching.

The Muscles and Skeletons Songs

After Study Muscles and Skeleton, I realize this is really brand new knowledge to me and I kind of like it actually. All the while, I though yoga is just like jogging, zumba…is just exercise until today. To become a teacher, I need to study deeper, need to know more than just poses, need to ensure student do correct posture and align with anatomy, need to ensure didn’t cause injuries…etc. So, Anatomy is very important.  But, to remember all the Muscles and Skeletons name really kill me, the names sound like Aliens and Dinasours to me… I’m not biological student and I’m not good in remember all the weird names as well. Oh no…How can I remember all the name? I think I must find something to help me remember all these names. So… I look for my 2 best friends “google & youtube”, hope they can help me.

Finally, I found a very useful study material, which is the Study Song. There is a lot of talented and creative people created many interesting study materials.
Here I share some of video and I write down one interesting lyrics…it’s really cool!!! This video is not only tell you the name of muscles, also it movement.

Thorax and Shoulder Muscles song:
“Give me a second I, I need to get these muscles straight
Find some way to remember where they insert and originate
The Pectoralis Major it lie just across the chest
Its goes from Clavicle and Sternum to the ribs and humerus
For shoulder flexion it’s a prime mover, that goes for adduction as well
And below it lies the smaller size of Pectoralis minor, guys
Which goes from scapula to ribs
So it by the time you don’t study, you throw your arms up in despair
The Pec major will help (because it’s shoulder flexion, get it?)
Anterior thorax muscles, Extrinsic to the shoulder,
all insert into the girdle, except for the pec major.

Serratus Antertior runs deep and inferior to Pec Major and Minor up above
Ribs to scapula it falls, scapula abduction calls
And it holds the scapula to your chest walls
I’d like to make myself believe that the subclavius shows clearly
Stabilizing and depressing shoulder girdles easily
But it can’t be seen in cadaver lab bodies
Posterior thorax thew is just as easy too
The Latissimus Dorsi lies on top (technically the trapezius in on top too, superior to LD)
This most supetficial thing work in shoulder adducting
And extension like in forceful hammering
From Lumbar vertebrae and Pelvis, And inserting at the humerus
It’s just a superficial as the Trapezius
Which elevates, adducts, depresses, & outwardly rotate the scapula
(and it has 3 sections, lower, middle and upper fibers)
Now the Levator Scapulae does what its latin name implies (elevate the scapula)
Helping Trapezius elevate, the scapula and inwardly rotate
The Rhomboids are deep to those with major and minor pose
to adduct and rotate the scapula in
From vertebral column’s start to scapula,
some part of that muscles is memorized by heart
I’d like to make myself believe that I know the upper extremity

Shoulder muscle next…extended and flexed
Starting with the deltoid muscle 1st, supplied by the anxillary nerve
With it prime motion, Abduction, extension, flexion
It’s where u get most of your injection
The Rotator Cuff is deeper down, that’s where all 4 “SITS” muscles are found
(Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Subscapularis)
Scapula origin to the humerus leading if acting all at once they stabilize
The rotator cuff… the learning not enough
The Supraspinatus is aligned just above scapula’s spine
Stabilization preventing dislocation (downward)
It always keep the humerus in line
In Infraspinatus rotates laterally beneath scapula its sits stably
Teres minor rotates too, lateral moves, those 2 are hard to saparate.
Subscapularis last of the “SITS” mates, medially or laterally rotates.
Then teres major is listed next, i’ll wager it’s helper to Latissimus Dorsi…
If you’re feelings somewhat overstressed just recall these songs to pass the test
I’ve gotten bolder knowing Thorax & Shoulder, and i’ll remember for the longest time!”

Thorax and Shoulder Muscles song

For the skeletons, I found the “Bones! Bones! Bones!” Songs is quite interesting. Together with cute animation, I’m sure you can remember easily for all the bones name.

Bones! Bones! Bones!

Hope this is helpful for your study and there is more video and songs can be found in youtube.

Let’s “Sing” together. Cheers!!!

Wei Veen

How YOGA helps to reduce lactic acid build up in muscles

My intention in this research is explaining how yoga is suitable for everyone, even though they don´t practice yoga as it is supposed to be. The asanas will help them to archive their goal in a better way. I´m going to talk about this topic and include yoga topics in every step that could be part of a recovery system for athletes.

Lactic acid is released into the muscles when they have used up their normal energy stores but still have intense energy needs. Small amounts of lactic acid operate as a temporary energy source, thus helping you avoid fatigue during a workout. However, a buildup of lactic acid during a workout can create burning sensations in the muscles that can slow down your athletic activity. For this reason, it may be desirable to reduce lactic acid build up in the muscles.

In order to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, it is necessary to do a proper warm up before exercising, asanas for me, is the best way to warm up because you using your breathing to warm up the whole body.  Surya Namaskar is perfect to warm up because it moves the spine in different directions and the entire body is stretched and strengthened, it´s also a sequence that can be performed by beginners or advanced athletes(sportsmen). Surya Namaskar will loosen the joins, increase the blood and lymphtatic circulation, exercises cardiovascular system and regulates the pingala nadi which is the solar energy channel in the body.

Even though small quantities of lactic acid is necessary and even good for your body in certain circumstances, it is still necessary to prevent lactic acid levels from building up too quickly. If you don’t, you will find it hard to work out comfortably or to the best of your ability.

Reducing lactic acid build up — though it won’t prevent DOMS – will help you to work out harder for longer, which is essential for any good athlete.

 

REDUCING LACTIC ACID DURING A WORKOUT

1.Stay hydrated.

2.Breathe deeply.-

The cause of the burning sensation you feel in your muscles while exercising is twofold: it is partly due to the buildup of lactic acid, but it is also due to a lack of oxygen.

You can ameliorate this by paying close attention to your breathing while you exercise. Be sure to take deep breathes in and out at an even pace. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

This will help to deliver oxygen to your muscles and stop the production of lactic acid.

The lack of oxygen could be fixed by practicing Nadi Shodhana before and after the workout in order to help the body gain a higher oxygen level than usual.

3.Work out frequently. Even if they don´t practice their sports daily, they can practice yoga 3 times a week to stretch and strengthen the muscles in a different way.

4.Be cautious when lifting weights. 

5.Decrease the intensity of your workout if you start to feel a burn. 

As you catch your breath, more oxygen will be delivered to your muscles and release the lactic acid. I recommend the Supine poses with a breathing sequence to help the body recover.

6.Stretch after your workout. 

Since lactic acid disperses 30 minutes to an hour after your workout, stretching helps to release lactic acid, alleviating any burning sensations or muscle cramps you might be experiencing.

Holding stretching poses like:

  • Eka Pada Uttanpadasana
  • Jathara Parivartanasana
  • Sethu bandhasana
  • Viparita Karani
  • Bhujangasana
  • Adhomukha Shvanasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Uttanasana

And ending in savasana with a breathing sequence of inhaling 6 times and exhaling 12 times. It will help the body cool down the right way and help the flow of oxygen through the body. This practice can take 30 minutes, this is the exact time the lactic acid takes to disperse.

Stretch your muscles lightly after any intense exercise, and also use your fingertips to massage the area gently.

This will also decrease any micro-trauma that may be responsible for soreness in the days following a workout.

7.Stay active and healthy.

At the end, my intention is to show that yoga could fit in any sport. Asanas are tended to fix positions, any movement done wrong in any sport can be fixed or adjusted if they practice yoga for their benefit.  

 

Energetic Anatomy: Chakras and Meridians

As I learn more about Chakras in this YTT course, I come to realise Chakras and Meridian points in TCM are quite similar and are often talked about together.

Definitions:  

Chakras: Disk, vortex, or wheel in sanskrit. These are non-physical energy fields that map onto our physical body from the base of the spine to the top of the head. There are 7 major chakras in our body:

  1. Root Chakra – Centre of Stability and Support
  2. Sacral Chakra – Centre of Sexuality and Imagination
  3. Solar Plexus Chakra – Centre of Self-Esteem
  4. Heart Chakra – Centre of Love and Self-Acceptance
  5. Throat Chakras – Expression and Communication
  6. Third Eye Chakra – Wisdom and Intuition
  7. Crown Chakra – Knowing and Enlightenment

Meridians: A network of energy pathways that carry energy like how arteries carry blood. These pathways create flow of information and link the connective tissues of the body with different organs and parts of the body. There are 12 Principal Meridians and they are divided into Yin and Yang groups.

  • Yin – feminine, dark, associated with slow, soft, cold and wet (represented by water, earth, moon and nighttime)
  • Yang – masculine and light, associated with action, speed and aggressiveness (represented by sun, sky and daytime)

The Yin meridians of the arm are the lung, heart and pericardium. The Yang meridians of the arm are large intestine, small intestine and triple burner. The Yin Meridians of the leg are the spleen, kidney and liver. The Yang meridians of the leg are the stomach, bladder and gall bladder.

 

Similarities

  1. Both energies need to be well balanced for a person to be physically, emotionally, mentally and spirituality healthy.

The degree of Chakra and Meridian activity in a person’s body is dependent on the person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of health.

In chakras, if there are deficiencies/excesses or ‘blocked’ or ‘open’ chakras, it might lead to certain physical and psychological problems. Eg. if root chakra is blocked or deficient, one may experience insecurity or fear.

In meridians, if the body has too much yin or too little yang, the body will be cold and slow, showing signs of low thyroid or metabolism. Similarly, if there is too much yang and too little yin, the body becomes hot and stimulated, showing signs of high thyroid state.

       2. Both have ‘tell-tale’ signs or symptoms that can be treated

In chakras, if someone feels that it is difficult to get emotionally close with people, his heart chakra might be blocked. If he or she is confused in his/her thoughts, it may be because of their 7th chakra (cognition may be overactive) etc. Yoga exercises (asanas or prayanamas) can help to solve these problems if one can be more aware of their emotions and problems.

In meridians, acupuncture points can be stimulated with needles or physical pressure to release or redistribute energy along the meridian pathway. If you feel tiredness or soreness in your body, acupuncture can be used to treat these points to improve body condition.

        3. Different yoga asanas can help to stimulate chakras and meridians 

In chakras, to overcome inertia and lack of motivation, one can do yoga exercises such as ‘Breath of Fire’, backbends and twisting poses) to help stimulate the third chakra and heat up the body and fill it with energy.

In meridians, if you want to bring forth the dark, slow, evening feminine energy of yin, you can do poses such as low lunge and forward bends whereas sun salutations and twisting poses help to create hot, bright, morning and masculine energy of yang.

        4. Interconnectedness with other parts of the body 

In chakras, a sensitive practitioner’s hand held over a chakra may resonate with pain in a related organ, congestion in a lymph node or even areas of emotional turmoil.

In meridians, if you press specific points along the skin where the meridians surface, they may be interconnected and you can feel the aches and tingles along the same meridian points.

 

Differences:

  1. Origin

Chakras were described as centers of consciousness in ancient Indian texts like the Yoga Upanishads and in the Yoga Sutras or Pantanjali.

The meridian theory was originally expressed by the Chinese on the basis of observations of illnesses and holistic treatment.

     2. Functions of the energy

The chakras are like pools or swirling disks of energy that bathe and fuel the organs in their proximity. They govern the endocrine system and carry information about the person’s history. They also encode and process physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experiences.

In meridians, they deliver their energy to the organs. As the body’s energy bloodstream, the meridian system brings vitality and balance, removes blockages, adjusts metabolism, and even determines the speed and form of cellular change. The flow of the meridian energy pathways is as critical as the flow of blood. No energy = no life. Meridians affect every organ and every physiological system, including the immune, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, skeletal, muscular, and lymphatic systems.

     3. Exercises to improve Chakra and Meridian 

One can perform yoga exercises such as meditation, prayanama or practice asanas to improve specific chakras.

The fluid movements of Sundao, Tai Chi and QiGong and techniques of acupuncture and acupressure apply the knowledge of the meridians to eliminate the blockages of energy and treat the disease.

 

Conclusion

Be it chakra or meridian, they work well together. Chakras bring energy into your body, while meridians sends the energy around your body. When they are in harmony, they are very powerful in enhancing your energy supply.

 

Angela

The Most Underrated Asana: Savasana 

“Lie down, close your eyes and relax” – the words we all look forward to hearing at the end of the class, meaning we’ve worked through some sun salutations, practiced asanas and are ready to rest. After getting into a comfortable position, taking a cleansing breath or maybe an audible exhale, we find ourselves in savasana, also known as corpse pose.

I think savasana is perhaps the easiest asana to perform but one of the most difficult to master, a form of conscious surrender. In today’s fast-paced society, people are so used to instant gratification and efficiency, where we want effects of our actions to be nearly immediate, thus find it hard to take a moment to slow down. I know I definitely do, where I used to really struggle just lying still for a few minutes and always had the urge to fidget. Even when I did self-practice, I often left out savasana because I wanted to get back to my day instead of lying around. On the other side of the spectrum, some find themselves falling asleep, where they let go and lose focus, enjoying the pose a little too much.

However, savasana has many benefits both physiologically and psychologically. It is an opportunity for us to physically and mentally relax each part of the body, usually starting from the feet up. By taking time in savasana, we can absorb the energy from the physical asanas and dissolve any tension in our muscles, letting our body recover and rest, as well as taking a mental inventory and checking in with how our body feels. Besides that, we can allow our parasympathetic system to take over, where we can slow down our respiratory rate and heart rate, and give our bodies time for them both to return to resting rate. Although the autonomic system usually works unconsciously, in savasana we can consciously notice and register how our breath and heartbeat is slowing down, and in that way, feel more relaxed.

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Practicing yoga asanas with an injury and how to modify

We’re taught in the YTT200 how to ensure correct alignment in postures to avoid injury, which is such a fundamental part of a safe and sustainable practice, but what about if you come to yoga with a pre-existing injury?

I tore my piriformis around 18 months ago – I was not fully warmed up, I was practicing in a cold room on a cold tile floor and I dropped down into hanumanasana on my right side, extended over my right leg into a forward fold and that’s when I heard it… RIP! The piriformis is a small muscle located deep in the buttock, underneath the Gluteus Maximus – it originates at the sacrum and inserts at the top of the femur. My glute was incredibly sore for several weeks and didn’t seem to be improving, I continued regular practice, determined not to let the injury stop me from progressing, despite the pain. Eventually, the isolated pain began to radiate down my leg towards the back of my knee and so I sought the advice of a physiotherapist.  The sciatic nerve passes directly behind, or in some people, through the piriforis and any trauma to the piriformis can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in radiating pain or spasms. My original muscle injury had now led to compression of my sciatic nerve, making most standing asanas incredibly painful, in fact, it even hurt to sit down for any length of time.

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