BLOG: TOP TIPS: SUN SALUTATIONS
Hi, it's me again! Back to talking shit about some cool shit, and this month; we are obsessing about Sun Salutations. Why is that? Because it’s bloody freezing in Europe and the energy prices are doing a dance so instead of worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll be doing Sun Salutations to keep me keep on top of the coldness that touches my flesh and any stagnation that may show up on my mind!
In each section, I will be breaking down each of the recordings with a link to social-media posts I made about the points. Maybe at some point, I will elaborate on the anatomy of each section but I’ll keep it simple for now.
Really I should start with a recording about the arms lifting up but I’ll come back to that. For now, know that when you inhale and raise your arms up, it’s going to be a huge benefit to your shoulders if you change the angle at which you raise your arms up.
I come from a time when yoga studios were packed out and the only way to inhale and lift the arms was to bring the arms forward. Raising the arms from the side can only increase the risk of pissing off the next-door yogi who just wants to get their spiritual fix, undisturbed, in a room full of many other people.
Now that we have covered that, let’s move on to the forward bend.
One of my pet peeves used to be when I would see the deities of flexibility at the front of the class warming up before the class started. They would stretch, twist, and go upside down like it was their only chance to show everyone they could do it. Jokes aside, it’s healthy for all of us to warm up to get ready for a practise. Applying the conditioning exercises you personally need before you engage in any movement is SMART! So as much of a pet peev it used to be, I actually learned to have a lot of respect for those practitioners, particularly the ones who seemed to know what they were doing.
Now let’s get down to it!
Feet width: the closer together you have your feet, the harder it is to forward bend. This is because Adductor Magnus is being used as an Adductor, if we separate the feet the Adductor Magnus gets to do what it’s really good at…… act like a hamstring.
Adductor Magnus is like the odd one out of the adductors because it’s positioning makes the anterior and posterior fibers behave differently.
When we separate the feet, Adductor Magnus isn’t behaving like an adductor and so gets to stretch with the rest of the hamstrings. Guess what? The more that is helping the stretching, the easier the pose is going to be. I highly recommend separating your feet if you have lower back tightness as tight hamstrings (including posterior fibers of Adductor Magnus) lengthened out can be a dream for the lower back.
Where do the hips go?
I’d you want to help your hamstrings out that is. You can keep the hips completely level with the feet but the hips won’t be doing what they are good at. We may end up having a whole host of issues around using the hip flexors and hip extensors incorrectly.
What I mean is when hip flexors are not used for hip flexion and when hip extensors, are not used for hip extension; the body can overcompensate by using a hip flexor to help with extension and vice versa.
You can imagine this is a complete waste of time and efficiency based on the capabilities of these structures!
But, doesn’t matter what I say, it’s your life, your practise, and your body! I’m just being a guide to how the human body typically works in its optimum state, not trying to be anyone’s Guru!
Within orthopedic screening, being able to touch the toes equals sufficient hamstring flexibility. If you find you are able to go beyond that, great! Maybe you are ready for other poses if that’s your thing. If not, this is always very healthy.
Well, what if you can not touch your toes? Come to my bodywork or anatomy trainings! That is where I show all the secrets to gaining more length in your flexibility and more tone in your joints!
But if you can’t, it’s likely you are either new to the field of flexibility or you have a lot of dense collagenous tissue (not a bad thing at all). In this case, all you need is more Sun Salutations to get the tissue warm.
Neck: I don’t mind if someone wants to inhale and look up before or after stepping or jumping back. But I would prefer if we didn’t crack the neck when exhaling into a forward bend.
But why Jambo?
Because this one test doesn’t make any sense to biomechanics at all. The neck is part of the spine, the spine is trying to fold forwards, why kink the end of it up if that isn’t the final destination?
What is likely to happen if we do 10 of these every day for a number of years is that we will condition ourselves to use our neck muscles to do a forward bend.
Ok, that’s enough of a rap (rant) now. Enjoy the recording and I hope it helps!