BUILD A POSE
The order of teaching ANY pose in Yoga is done in 3 parts, and always in this order, for the most effective outcomes and benefits, and to move the student up their Deep Front Line.
1 We start at the FOUNDATION, neutralising first, grounding down then
2 TRANSITIONING (contracting) through waves up the spine - into
3 the full EXPRESSION of the pose (expanding).
Once you’ve opened up into the posture, we can refine further, circling back again to the beginning, either within the pose or at the beginning of the next, and the beginning of the next pose too! At any point, you can return to foundation and refine the alignment.
1 FOUNDATION : NEWTONS 3RD LAW OF MOTION For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. e.g pressing down into the floor with your feet when standing, the equal and opposite reaction of energy drawing up the body occurs. In rooting down, we naturally stimulate muscular engagement and manifest space through the joints, particularly through the spine, creating the foundation of structural stability and ease.
*Remember the positions of hands and feet are dictated by what is happening further up. So even though we start by routing down, the alignment of them is least important. We should focus on the core out, the same way we were developed in our mothers womb.
Ground the bony points of whatever is in contact with the floor, allowing Deep Core Lines to spring from arches of hands and feet, Mula Bandha, or crown of head.
2 TRANSITION : Let the foundation grounding cause an uprising through the deep core muscles until they meet the pelvis. Align the pelvis, creating a pelvis that, for whatever pose you are in, is not over-stretching, or constricting the gateways of the hip joints, nor compressing the sacrum or lumbar curve. Then continue to WAVE the SPINE LONG from root to crown, aligning the abdominal muscles and bandhas with breath, to keep the energy flowing.
3 EXPRESSION: Expression cannot be forced, or gripped into, but is an almost effortless outcome. Many students make the mistake of trying to ‘make’ expression happen (as in hopping forward in Crow before setting the foundation or activating the inner thighs and core.) The final outcome, or lightness, or expression of any pose is only an organic result of the work you are doing underneath it. If you can work this earth-to-core duality (foundation down, core muscle lines upward) enough, the outcome will be a transformation and growth within the pose. No matter what the students level or physical capabilities, they can begin to accomplish a seed of any pose by setting [foundation], draw energy into the core (transition) and then move into their edge as they [express] without losing that firm connection to the earth, and to themselves.
When approaching a pose, think “how can I begin from the properly set and activated foundation, and how could we back off the leg and arm stretch at first, in order to access the pelvic alignment. Then once the pelvis and spine are aligned, how can we move towards expression without losing that core connection?”
· Back out of the full expression.
· Align the legs and pelvis.
· Wave long through the spine.
· Move towards full expression until you hit your edge.
· Breathe and make Space.
WAVING - TRANSITIONS
Consider every transition between poses as important to align as the poses themselves.
Guiding students out of asanas involves applying your understanding of what is at risk in the transitional movement and giving specific physical actions that students can apply. In most the transition begins with bringing awareness back to the foundation and reestablish a feeling of stable grounding. Encouraging students to keep the spine and other potentially vulnerable joints in mind, your verbal cues should guide them through sequential releasing actions in which the stable foundation of the asana is maintained.
Moving slowly through the transition, using wavelike, undulating movements, has four major benefits:
1. Takes the overused outer body muscles more offline, so that:
2. The Deep Front Line of muscles can activate.
3. Creates more skeletal support (true core strength), and releases unhealthy pressure on the spine and joints.
4. Aligns the foundation and core (pelvis and lumbar spine) before coming into full expression of the pose, so the student is more supported and open than if they came into the full pose first, and then tried to re-align.
You can do the wave, small or more obvious, as you come into any pose, whether it’s coming up from the floor into a standing pose, a foot stepping forward from dog pose, or kicking up into a handstand. When done in order and linked together smoothly, creates a wave. These transitional waves help students to hit many alignment points within one breath or so, without you as the teacher having to explain them all in order, which would take more time than sometimes we want to spend within a flow.
Now we know how.. let's learn how to effectively communicate this and guide our students into postures.