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Tag Archives: Hips

Summer of Core Day 26: L-Sit

Now that we’ve been practicing Summer of Core for almost a month (tomorrow is the last day!), we should have a much stronger core than we did when we started.

So I’m throwing in this “L-sit,” bramcharyasana in Sanskrit, which is a true challenge.

L-sit

When I first attempted this many, many years ago, actually the first time it was suggested to me by my yoga teacher I started laughing. How was I going to get my hips off the ground? My arms were too short! My arms weren’t strong enough! Etc. Etc.

Practice and all is coming, right? As the Ashtanga school guru K. Pattabhi Jois carried as a mantra, I continued to practice this but still could not get my hips to lift off the ground!

Then a teacher introduced the pose with blocks. What an awakening!

With the help of the blocks, I finally lifted my hips off the ground! I could feel the deep core strength needed to control this pose. The use of breath. The slightly tilted upper body position. Things began to unravel to make sense! It’s still a work in progress for me, as I can’t lift my legs off the ground yet. But…it’s coming.L-sit blocks

Still, L-sit requires strength. Good thing we’ve been building it up!

Let’s Do It

  • Sitting in staff pose, dandasana, legs extended on the floor, sitting up tall, hands alongside the hips.
  • Walk your hands about one hand length in front of your hips, finger pointing toward your toes.
  • Bring a block under each hand.
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale, draw your belly button up and in and press into the floor with your hands.
  • Your hips may or may not lift from the ground.
  • If your hips lift off the ground, try also lifting your legs by contracting your quads and pulling your femurs in toward your hip sockets.
  • Hold for as long as you can, maintaining your deep breath.
  • Release.
  • If you were able to lift your hips from the ground, try it without a block next time!

We’ll practice this in class today 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Join me!

~ Shoshana

 

Summer of Core Day 23: Hip lift –> Jack Knife

We’re going to get onto our backs today, with a move that gets deep into the transverse abdominis.

Hip Lift

This move can be done simply by lifting the hips with the legs extended toward the sky. You’ll definitely start to feel it after a couple of lifts if you use lots of control.

Let’s Do It

  • Lie flat on your back, your arms alongside your body.
  • Extend your legs to the sky.
  • Inhale, lift your hips toward the sky, reaching the souls of your feet up as well.
  • Exhale, lower all the way back down slowly, with control. Legs stay lifted.
  • Repeat five to 10 times.

Add on To It

For a bit more dynamic work, add an upper body reach, coming into the Jack Knife exercise.

  • On your back with your legs elevated upward, extend your arms behind your head.
  • Take a big inhale to stretch long.
  • Exhale, reach your hands to touch your feet, while reaching your feet to touch your hands.
  • Your hips and shoulders should come off the ground as you reach.
  • Inhale, return to position one.
  • Repeat five to 10 rounds.

Have fun with this one!

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 16: Side Plank T-Flows

I made this one up. Well, I’m sure I picked some of it up somewhere. But I certainly made up the name. It’s not so much side plank as it is a chance to utilize your obliques in a new way.

Here’s Katy for a second day in a row demonstrating the move.

Thanks again Katy for being a wonderful model and dedicated student!

Let’s Do It

  • Begin in kneeling side plank with your right knee down and left arm to the sky.
  • Inhale, lift from your left arm so your right arm lifts off the ground and both arms form a “T”, palms facing down, arms out to the sides, torso stacked over hips.
  • Exhale, float your left hand to your left thigh. Reach your right arm straight up.
  • Inhale, extend toward the sky, stretching from your right knee through the whole right side of your body up to your finger tips.
  • Exhale, float your right arm back to the ground with control, left arm to the sky, returning to side plank.
  • Repeat this flow five to ten times. Switch sides.

Alignment Tune-Up

  • In kneeling side plank, make sure your bottom arm is stacked beneath your shoulders, so there’s a long, straight line running from your bottom hand through your chest and shoulders and up your lifted arm.
  • Bring your bottom knee directly under your bottom hip for optimal stability.
  • Extend your top leg straight out so the foot is in line with your bottom knee. You should feel like your body is in one singular plane.
  • Engage your extended thigh and keep your top hip lifted, core engaged.

Why Flow?

We primarily practice vinyasa yoga, meaning yoga that flows with the breath. It becomes a moving meditation, which can be very effective in clearing the mind and reducing stress from our hectic, daily lives.

“The Western world has become a seated society, which is why vinyasa yoga is so important: its orientation is breath and movement, and research shows that increased movement in a seated society is absolutely essential for health. Vinyasa yoga gets us moving.” ~ Eddie Modestini, renowned yoga instructor and student of BKS Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

I hope that this flow and yesterday’s flow will get you moving today and you’ll find some joy and freedom in the practice.

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 15: Spinal Balance Flow

We are nearly halfway through our month of core. I hope you are feeling a difference! I know I am feeling stronger and more aware of my abs during yoga and other activities.

Today we’re going to have some fun optional flows for Spinal Balance, which we worked to fine tune yesterday.

So take that well-aligned Spinal Balance and let’s get to work.

Flow Option 1: Alternate sides with breath

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale return to all fours.
  • Inhale, switch sides.
  • Exhale return to all fours.
  • Repeat for three to five rounds.
  • Rest in Child’s Pose.

As you move through this flow, keep your breath flowing long, and stretch out your movement to match that long breath. Try to keep your hips stable and your core engaged. Extend through your heel and your fingertips to get long on your inhale.

Flow Option 2: Knee-to-Nose Crunch

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale and pull your knee to your elbow, meeting near your belly button, arching your back.
  • Inhale, extend to Spinal Balance.
  • Exhale, return to all fours.
  • Switch sides.
  • Repeat three to five full rounds.
  • You can make this more challenging by continuing on one side for three to five reps, then switching sides.

Flow Option 3: Sunbird

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Bend your extended leg so your foot is facing the ceiling.
  • Inhale, lift your foot straight up to get into the glutes.
  • Exhale bring your knee to your elbow.
  • Inhale and extend, keeping your knee bent and foot toward the ceiling.
  • Repeat on one side three to five times. Switch sides.

Flow Option 4: Leg & Arm Reach

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale, reach your extended arm and leg out to opposite sides simultaneously.
  • Inhale, return to Spinal Balance.
  • Repeat on one side for three to five reps. Switch sides.
  • Try to keep your back flat and your torso immobile as you move your limbs in and out.

Rest in Child’s Pose.

Katy Mangan demonstrates each variation on the flow in this video.

Thanks Katy for the great demo! Katy is often in the morning flow and power classes, a dedicated student and a talented storyteller. She regularly collaborates with instructor Dawn Justice for a restorative yoga and storytelling class at Soul. It’s a real treat!

Have fun with today’s options. You might string them all together into one long flow, or take breaks between the series. These are great flows to do in the morning, as they are energizing and get the cardiovascular system going. Enjoy!

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 14: Spinal Balance

Today’s pose, spinal balance, is one that takes core strength in the back muscles as well as the front for stability.


Spinal balance, dandayamna bharmasana in Sanskrit, is also known as balancing table in some yoga circles. It’s often called a beginner’s pose, but in my experience, it takes a lot of body awareness and control to execute and can be a challenge to hold.

I love using it as a warm-up, because it helps you get a feel for elongating your body while connecting to your core. In my classes I often incorporate it into a flow to get the breath linked to movement. But today, we are going to break down this pose and get into proper alignment for optimum benefit.

Let’s Do It

  • From hands and knees (use a blanket or a doubled-up mat under your knees if they’re sensitive), bring your belly button in towards your spine to firm your abs and flatten your back.
  • Keep your gaze at the ground and draw your shoulders away from your ears for length in your neck.
  • Extend your left leg behind you, keeping toes on the ground.
  • Press through your heel to strengthen your thigh and feel strong from hip to heel.
  • Inhale, lift your leg to hip height.
  • Extend your right arm forward, turning your palm to face in, your thumb to the sky.
  • Work to keep your hips level and your abs turned on as you breathe.
  • Hold for three to five breaths. Switch sides.

Options

  • Lift your leg only, not your arm if you feel unstable or wobbly. Work on your balance and strength from here.
  • If your wrists bother you, use fists for wrists or come to your forearms.

Fine-Tune the Alignment

In class, I often see students with concave backs, their bellies dipping toward the ground and their leg and arm coming higher than shoulder or hip height. To maximize the benefits of this pose:

  • Try to keep your leg at hip level.
  • Keep your core muscles engaged to support your back and keep it flat.
  • Lift your arm just to shoulder height.
  • Think about reaching out and back, creating length rather than height.
  • Keep your gaze at the ground, your neck long.

It can be helpful to have someone watch you and tell you when you are in proper alignment or to do this in front of a full-length mirror, though you may know my thoughts on mirrors and yoga.

As always, let me know if you have any questions, if anything’s not clear or if you just want to say hi!

Have a great time with this one. Come see me in class today at 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.!

~ Shoshana

 

 

Summer of Core Day 10: Side Plank Hip Dips

Hello and welcome to the 10th day of Summer of Core! Can you believe it?

Today we will build a little bit more on side plank by incorporating hip dips. Like the Hip Dips on straight plank we did on Day 2, this move isolates and works the obliques a little more and the exterior hip muscles.

Let’s Do It

  • Start in your version of side plank (on the knee, staggered/scissored feet, stacked feet).
  • Bring your top hand to your top hip to help you feel where that hip is going.
  • Inhale, lift the side of your top hip toward the sky.
  • Exhale, drop the side of your lower hip toward the ground.
  • Inhale to lift.
  • Repeat three full rounds to start. You can add reps if you need to.
  • Switch sides.

Points on Alignment

  • Bottom hand should be under your lower shoulder, your arm strong, hugging muscle to bone.
  • Keep your back flat, as if up against a wall.
  • Your top shoulder may want to dip toward the ground, try to keep it pulled back, isolating movement in your hips.
  • Kneeling side plank might feel a little awkward for this move. If you prefer that position, try to move slowly with full awareness on your hip alignment. You might also consider extending the bottom leg into a staggered stance for more optimum alignment.

Here’s a video demonstrating the dips with all modifications.

Thanks for staying with this! Let me know how it’s going or if you have any questions.

I’m teaching tomorrow morning and Saturday morning at Soul, and we will practice this week’s moves in class. Check my Schedule for class times.

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 8: Side Plank

This week, we are taking a deep look at side plank, vasisthasana in Sanskrit.

This is a powerhouse move, as it not only strengthens the abs, especially the obliques and the serratus anterior, but works the shoulders and legs as well. It’s a full-body strength move with lots of variations, which we’ll get to over the next few days.

Let’s Do It

  • Begin in plank. Take your weight to the left side, rolling onto your left arm and coming onto the edge your left foot.
  • Stack your right foot on top of your left.
  • Extend your right arm to the sky, lifting from your right ribs through your fingertips.
  • Lift your hips, as if a string is pulling your right hip to the sky.
  • Strengthen your quads and your feet.
  • Push into the ground with your left arm, driving the floor away, hugging muscle to bone.
  • Reach your shoulders away from each other.
  • Gaze can be upwards if it feels OK on your neck. Otherwise adjust your gaze so as to not strain your neck.
  • Hold your side plank for five full breaths.
  • Switch sides.

Options

Kneeling side plank

KneelingSidePlank

This is a great place to start, especially if you feel wobbly. You can get great extension without having to worry about balance. You can work on lifting your hip, engaging your core and expanding in your chest and shoulders. Don’t forget to keep your extended leg engaged and the sole of the foot on the floor.

Scissored feet

Scissored Side Plank

Another great option to make this pose feel more accessible. Scissoring the feet provides more stability, but you can still get into a full leg extension.

Forearm Side Plank

Forearm Side Plank

If for any reason, a straight-arm version of side plank is not comfortable, come onto your forearm. Have your elbow stacked under your shoulder, and work to push away from the ground so you don’t collapse into your shoulder. Always extend upwards.

Extended leg

Extended Side Plank

To increase the challenge, lift your top leg. Keep your thighs strong and your hips lifted.

Get Stronger!

Use the next few days to challenge your ability. You may want to start in a kneeling side plank and work up from there. You might experiment with peaking at extended side plank for a breath or two.

Please let me know if you have any questions. And come practice with me today! 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at Soul Yoga.

~ Shoshana