Yoga, alignment, and isometricsPosted: Updated:
Yoga is one of the oldest forms of movement using isometrics, a form of static training that strengthens and stabilizes muscles and joints. Proper form and alignment are keys to staying injury free as well as supporting any pre-existing issues.
I work with students every single day who have had a training injury of some sort due to over stretching or improper form.
Static holds build up endurance, create deep core strength, and increase stability and balance. Through consistent repetition one may begin to increase the duration of these long holds. The intention is to find the place where there is a steady action, while still greating the edge. This zone is where effort is not over exerted to maintain the posture. Take your time and listen to your body as you attempt this series.
There is something to be said for aligning with listening to your body and taking it slow and steady. This will prevent injury and ensure that you make small strides a little each time. Remember, that yoga is not about how far you bend or how long you can hold a pose. The practice is a place to engage a deeper listening and therefore understand where the body and mind integrate, there is spaciousness. This may not show up in the form right away, yet with consistency of at least three or four days a week, one will notice the inner strength that transfers off the mat and into ones everday life.
Remember, being fit does not necissarily mean having six pack abs. Although this is a trend and is often thought to be focus in getting in shape, when when focus only upon the desired result, one is set up for failure. Focusing on alignment, feeling the integration of the practice and the postures will not only strengthen the foundation for moving with ease, but will help to unleash a deeper listening while giving your all and resting too. It is important to balance these active postures with more balance postures and passive as well. Rest when needed.
This series focuses on three postures: Plank or top of a pushup, Side Plank, and Warrior II. All of these integrate the universal principles of alignment and isometrics.
In top of a pushup we are pressing through all ten fingers spread wide. The entire palm is touching the floor. The shoulders are stacked over the wrists and the legs are active, heels pressing through to extention. The navel is drawing back and up and the tail bone dropping under slightly. This is a very active isometric posture, we are static and supporting the alignment of equal opposition.
As we lower and hover in bottom of a plank, we create even more resistance. This posture can be done with the knees dropped as well. If one has low back issues, I recommend that until one is a bit stronger in the core and the support is felt through a lightness in the hips.
From push up, on hand is planced down on the floor under the nose and the feet are stacked. The other hand comes up to the sky. This position is difficult to hold, modifications are to drop one knee or take the top leg and place the foot out in front on the ground with a bend knee. This option helps with low back as well. It is important to protect the wrists, make sure that the shoulder is stacking over the writst.
This is an excellent posture to support strong ankles, relieves sciatica, and low back pain. One can stay in this for five to ten breaths, focusing off the fingertips of the extended hand. This posture is great for strengthening the legs. The front knee is over the ankle, both strengthening and protecting the joints.
This can be a short strengthening aspect of your practice or a long session of repetition. Align with your breath,
stay focused on what you are feeling and most of all let your practice be the art of play! Static holds bring one into a state of integration and empowerment. These postures support a deeper awareness of your inner stability. Enjoy!