How to keep your spine healthy

luke

The spine is designed to perform the following 4 movements: flexion, extension, axial rotation and side-bending. If you want to keep your back happy, try to perform these 4 movements daily. There’s no need to be a specialist in anatomy to enjoy a healthy and flexible spine.

Here are some recommendations to help you move intelligently:  (more…)

‘The map is not the territory’, my thoughts on anatomy and yoga

Sometimes, the challenge of teaching anatomy to yoga teachers is conveying the idea that, despite sharing the same anatomical blueprint, each person’s body is unique. The anatomical map offers us detailed portrayal of the human structure, however it is still only an approximate representation of the actual body we inhabit.  (more…)

Yoga and scoliosis

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine which involves certain consequences for the health and posture of the person affected by it. According to Elise Browning Miller -a senior Iyengar teacher specialized in back and sports related injuries- there are 2 main types of scoliosis: structural or functional (more…)

Alignment in yoga

111

When I trained with Mitchell Bleier I learned that verbal cues can be broken up into two categories: form and action. When we teach we begin with giving instructions that describe the form of a pose (where you place your feet and hands, how to position the pelvis, etc..) after that we use words that evoke action. This is the most important part as the action piece is what holds the asana together.  (more…)

How to prevent common yoga injuries

Yoga pose, Warrior 2

The practice of yoga is certainly known for its innumerable physical and mental benefits, but when practiced without respecting one’s own limits it can incur into injury. The good news is that yoga-related injuries are minor and infrequent. Still, I will highlight the most common ones and give you some guidelines as to how to prevent them. 

Low back

The lower portion of the spine tends to be a sensitive area since most humans spend most of their day sitting down. Maintaining the spine in a flexed position over long periods of time weakens the back. When carried over to the yoga mat this weakness can become aggravated by poses that hyper-flex or hyperextend the spine. 

To safeguard your back, first of all, don’t bounce while in a yoga pose. Those sudden movements can easily cause a muscle spasm that could last up to a few days. Also, try to always keep your knees slightly bent, especially when you fold forward over straight legs. This tiny action will simultaneously prevent overloading your low back and protect your knees from hyperextension.

In terms of back-bending, be sure to prepare your upper thoracic spine with a sequence that gradually opens the heart area. Some of my favorite preparatory postures include lunge-twists and cobra pose variations. When in a backbend, you want to avoid any pinching or discomfort in your lumbar region. If this happens, come out of the pose and ask your teacher for help.

Hamstring

Over-stretched hamstrings are a common yoga-related injury; I’ve experienced it a few times myself. If you’ve pulled one of your hamstrings you will notice a sharp pain in the back of your thigh (near your sit bone) when you walk, sit and bend forward. A pulled hamstring is not a serious injury but it is annoying since it affects your flexibility. Suddenly you can’t bend forward as deeply as you could before.

If you have a hamstring injury, it is important that you don’t quit your yoga practice all together, as prolonged periods of rest may aggravate the situation. To fully recover, you’ll need to learn how to modify your practice for the duration of your convalescence, about 3 months. The usual recommendation is to  bend the knees in all forward folds and to back off slightly when you notice any pain or disomfort in the injured area.

Knee ligaments

If you can’t comfortably sit in lotus pose why not try one of it’s easier variations? Knee injuries are incredibly disabling and must be avoided at all costs. Whenever you feel discomfort in your knees during your practice, seek out a more comfortable position.

The study of anatomy proves that we tend to force the knee joint (in yoga) when our hips are not open enough. To avoid damaging your ligaments, you need to work  patiently and steadily towards opening your hips. David Kiel, author and blogger at www.yoganatomy.com, has produced some very useful videos on how to prepare the hips for padmasana, (lotus pose). I have attached the links here and here.

Conclusion

I read somewhere that most yoga injuries have to do with one’s ego, as in that tendency to push forward into a pose no matter what the consequences. I’ve fallen into that trap of a few times myself and can guarantee that it leads nowhere. The general rule of thumb for cultivating a safe practice is to listen to the body and the breath at all times. Especially the breath! It will always give you away when you’re tying to force things. 

An update on my online anatomy course (and experience)

julia zatta

Hi there!

I feel like I’ve neglecting you as it’s been ages since I posted anything in English. I apologize for that! Here’s a little recap as to what I’ve been up to:

In July I launched my first ever online anatomy course (in Spanish) and I’ve been putting all my energy there, making sure things run smoothly and that everyone is happy and cared for. So far, it’s been a really positive and fun experience. I thoroughly enjoy delivering the classes and interacting with my students online.

I’m so pleased with our group’s diversity: we’ve got a majority of long time yoga teachers who bring a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to the table. We’ve also got an acupuncture student and a massage therapist in the mix. I’m enjoying getting to know everyone and seeing how the group’s interactions are unfolding in our private facebook group. (We’ve got a facebook group that serves as a forum to share our homework and anatomy-related information).

Some of the people who’ve signed up for the course are from Barcelona and Catalonia, while others log in to our virtual conference room from as far away as Madrid and San Sebastian. It’s exciting to meet people from all over without leaving the house. It’s also nice to see familiar faces and to engage with people I’ve known for ages but whom I don’t usually get to see very often.

Another thing I quite like about the online format is the amount of freedom that it grants us. We can communicate easily and fluidly via email, voice memos and Skype. Those who cannot attend the “live” weekly classes have access to video-recordings of each session. That way everyone moves forward at their own pace while remaining connected to and encouraged by the group’s progress.

This versatility is a game-changer for me. I didn’t realize how many people wanted to attend my classes but couldn’t, due to travel time, scheduling, work and family commitments. It’s actually quite hard to find a time and a place that works for everyone but it seems as though the internet -and all it’s nifty tools- has given us a respite and made life easier for everybody.

So, what’s next?

I’m eager to launch this same course in English. I’m curious to see what I can offer to the English-speaking yoga & bodywork  community. I also love the convenience of reaching people far away without all the overhead costs of travelling! I’ll be offering up some dates soon!! Stay tuned 🙂

In the meantime, I’d love to know what I can help you with. What are your anatomy needs?  What issues would you like to have clarity about? What do you want to learn? Email me!

Have a great week!

Julia

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