Many of us have experienced the immediate results of practicing yoga: less stress and a sense of calm. But what you might not know is that regular practice could yield long-term heath benefits. Research from the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that practicing yoga, along with regular exercise, can help relieve back pain, high […]
by Sarajean Rudman Does this sound familiar? The alarm clock rings, and you hit the ground running. You speed through a frenetic morning routine, and on to your rushed commute. At work, you just make it to your first meeting, and then you skip lunch to meet a deadline. Finally, at the end of your work […]
By Jennifer Lang Eighteen years ago last September, I went to my first yoga class in my native Oakland, California. It was a two-hour class on a Wednesday morning with Rodney Yee, and it was packed. I enjoyed the challenge, the opening of the body, and the lengthening of my muscles. Until the end. “Lie […]
Centuries-old Ayurvedic practices may be the key to better health in the here and now. by Rachel Strutt About a year ago, my friend Gareth introduced me to “swamp juice,” a smoothie of sorts that he’d invented using spinach, apples, and almond milk. Gareth cheerily told me he hadn’t been sick in four years as […]
The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I sensed that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher, Andrew, prompted us to “Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose.” Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable—doing a brief body scan to relax myself—I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into Corpse pose.
Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.
In this edition of Ask the Expert, Kripalu Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, and senior faculty member Janna Delgado answers your questions about the practice of yoga, exercises for the feet, and yoga-class etiquette.
When coming into Upward Facing Dog, how should I be utilizing my leg and abdominal muscles? Also, can you describe where my shoulders and arms should be in reference to my neck and head?
The leg muscles provide the power for the pose, so they should be engaged and active. The strength of the legs also supports the spine and protects the lower back. The knees are lifted and the toes are pointed, with the tops of the feet pressing firmly down into the floor. Maintain an internal rotation of the upper legs—the outer thighs should roll toward the floor in order to broaden the sacrum and prevent compression of the low back.
Core engagement is the other safeguard for the low back. You want to lift the perineum up, and draw the solar plexus in and up. The sacrum and tailbone lengthen down toward the heels, and the buttocks are soft, not clenched. This helps distribute the arc of the back bend evenly throughout the upper, middle, and lower back.