Jumping Back to Chatturanga

There is a troubling trend I'm seeing in yoga classes: jumping from uttanasana (standing forward fold) into plank.  Where are people learning this?! Not in my classes!

This is a really risky move.  The shock of jumping back with locked out arms, is hard on your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and even the spine.  You might say that you always jump back to plank and it feels fine, but if you're doing vinyasa style practices several days a week, jumping back like that all the time... not good!  Vinyasa classes are primo places for repetitive stress injury because, chances are, you are doing elventy hundred "vinyasas" every week, and that will cause wear and tear on your joints if you're not paying attention.  Just because it's yoga doesn't mean it's necessarily safe or good for your individual body.  So what to do?

Jumping back to Chatturanga

Ah yes. Chatturanga Dandasana.  We so often try to cheat our way through it in our yoga practices because it is HARD.  First, a few alignment pointers for Chattruanga.

  1. Elbows over wrists. Rules of physics say this makes sense.  Keep this in mind for arm balances like bakasana (crow).  This is a good foundation and gravity will transfer weight straight down your armbone, with minimal pressure on the wrist.  To make this happen, I like to give a little push forward with my toes in plank before I lower down.
  2. Don't lower more than halfway.  This is "past the point of no return" for many people.  It's hard to push back up from there! Also, this puts undo strain on the rotator cuff.  It's not necessary.  Your upper arms should not dip down below parallel with the floor.  If halfway is still too much for you, maybe just bend 1/3 of the way, or if you're still building strength, an inch or two.
  3. Find your wings! hugging elbows to ribs is the traditional way of doing this pose, however, it does not work for every body.  I have to have my hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart in Plank, Down Dog, and Chatturanga for my shoulders to be happy.  That means my elbows go out a little bit, and that's OK.
  4. Belly in and up the whole time!  This is the hard part.  But it will make it easier on the arms and shoulders, so it's a fair trade.
  5. If this is impossibly hard for you, do the whole shebang with your knees down.  Belly still pulls in and up though!  Once you're comfortable holding chatturanga for five breaths or so, you should be well on your way to jumping back like a ninja.

How to jump back:

  1. In uttanasana, place your hands shoulder-width apart next to your feet so that your elbows are already over your wrists.  Your shoulders will probably be forward of your wrists and that's OK.  Bend your knees as much as you need to to get your palms down.
  2. Inhale, lengthen your spine. 
  3. Exhale, pull your belly in and up as hop your feet back.  Land with bent elbows or bending elbows to your happy place in chatturanga.
  4. Flip over to the tops of the feet and inhale to upward facing dog. 

Here's a video where I break all this down:

Give it a try!  If jumping back to chatturanga is not your jam, STEP back to plank, then work on your chatturanga or bypass the whole vinyasa nonsense and head straight back to downward facing dog.   

 

Hot Yoga Safety Tips

The weather has turned summery here, which means the studio where I teach is holding the heat a lot more than it does in the winter.  I teach a hot vinyasa class and now it is seriously HOT yoga and not simply "comfortably warm" yoga.  Hot yoga is super popular and a lot of people, frankly, appear to be addicts.  It's not for everyone, though, and depending on the class, it can be pretty extreme, so it's wise to proceed with caution.  Even if you're a hot yoga junkie, when it's hot outside, you're putting some extra stress on your body, so here's a few tips for making it through a hot yoga class happy and healthy. 

  1. This might be obvious, but you don't have to do it.   In fact, if you have high blood pressure, low blood pressure, you're pregnant, or have a condition where you're supposed to avoid getting overheated (like MS, for example), hot yoga probably isn't the best practice for you.  Maybe you were already out in the heat all day or you're planning to be out all day after class.  You can skip it, change your mind mid-class, walk out, lay down, rest, or otherwise modify your practice to suit your needs.  Even if the mean Bikram teacher is yelling at you, you don't have to do it.  
  2. Show up well hydrated.  You should be drinking plenty of water anyway.  It's good for you.  Drink plenty of water all day, and a big glass 30 minutes before class.  A small snack an hour or so before is okay, too.
  3. And stay hydrated.  Sip water.  If you gulp too fast during practice, you might want to hurl, and that is not good.  Keep drinking water after you're done.  It's good if you can drink coconut water, Emergen-C, or something else with electrolytes to help replenish all the stuff you sweated out. 
  4. The heat will trick you.  The heat will make your muscles feel more relaxed and so you might be tempted to go really deep into stretches.  If you're new to hot yoga, I recommend practicing at a lower intensity than you feel necessary so you know how you'll feel the next day.  Even if you're experienced, pay attention to your experience of your practice.  Everyone has days where it's necessary to back off, slow down, or be more gentle.  Responding intelligently to what your body is telling you IS the yoga.  Focusing on keeping a big, even ujayi breath will help immensely in this department.
  5. Don't slip.  Even if you have a good mat, when you're dripping sweat everywhere, it will probably get slippery.  It might seem excessive, but a fancy yoga mat towel really is the best (Manduka or YogiToes), but at the very least, have a hand towel to mop up puddles.

Does this sound scary?  I hope not.  Or if it does, whatever.  You don't have to do hot yoga.  Many people will acclimate to the heat over time, and some people love it immediately.  Do what feels right and enjoy your practice!

June 1st! Transcendence Tribal at WINE4WATER in Baltimore

Saturday, June 1st Transcendence Tribal will be performing at WINE4WATER in Baltimore.  This fundraising event is near and dear to our hearts as several of our troupe members volunteered to build and re-build the Stadium Playground in the Waverly neighborhood of Baltimore.  We'll be featuring lots of fun and dynamic American Tribal Style® bellydance, and the members of Kallisti Tribal will be featuring a sword choreography.

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Transcendence Tribal at WINE4WATER

Also featuring silent auction, live music by Mongrel, and of course, wine for sipping!

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Saturday, June 1st

6:30-9:00pm

Playground at Stadium Place,

900 E. 33rd Street, Baltimore, MD

$20/person or $35/couple

Details and tickets at stadiumplayground.org

RSVP at the Facebook Event

 

June 1st! Verve Tribal at Dance Your Heart out Halfa

I'll be performing some improv tribal fusion with Sihaya  as Verve Tribal.  We'll be sharing the stage with Gypsy Fusion, Spiral, Nina Amaya, and many other great local belly dancers!

Gypsy Fusion's Dance Your Heart Out Hafla

Saturday, June 1st

4pm - 6pm

Anne Arundel Community College, Humanities Theater

Arnold, Maryland

$15, all proceeds benefit the American Humane Association

RSVP at the Facebook Event

 

 

Verve Tribal. Photo by SteroVision

Verve Tribal. Photo by SteroVision

Do It Yourself Yoga Workshop May 18th

Do you want to practice yoga at home but maybe don't know how to get started?  Sick of doing the same DVDs all the time? Need some inspiration?

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Do It Yourself Yoga Workshop

Saturday, May 18th, 1:30pm - 3:30pm

Awaken Wellness, Columbia, MD

$30 advanced registration  Register Online

$35 at the door

Doing yoga on your own can enhance your well being and advance your progress in your regular classes. Learn how to make time and space and use your inspiration to create a meaningful at-home practice. This workshop is designed to help students successfully create and maintain a home practice that will address their individual goals and become a meaningful part of their life. There will be lots of tips about structuring a home practice, how to stay dedicated in spite of distractions and busy-ness, and an introduction to free-form yoga practice.