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Shoulder Opening Tips to your Practice

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<b>Monica</b><br>Ālaya Yoga

Monica
Ālaya Yoga

Shoulder Opening Tips to your Practice

Shoulder Opening Tips to your Practice 🙆🏻‍♀️

Why not add these Shoulder Opening Practices to your daily routine?

Safeguard your Shoulders today to prevent the most common Shoulder injuries. Strengthen & open your Shoulders with some small practices you can try any time of the day.

Why should we even have Open Shoulders? 

According to the APA (American Psychological Association), “Ongoing muscle tension in your neck and shoulders can lead to more serious issues like back and shoulder pain, body aches, and migraine and tension headaches.” 

Some more:

1. It helps you improve your posture.

2. It helps in multiple muscle movements around your shoulders.

3. Adds extra support to your arms whenever arm strength is required.

4. Reduces neck and shoulder stiffness.

5. It Gives you more flexibility and mobility.

6. Open and strong shoulders help you lift heavy objects and play sports.

7. Psychological effect: Open shoulders make you look more confident.

Ongoing muscle tension in your neck and shoulders can lead to more serious issues like back and shoulder pain, body aches, and migraine and tension headaches

Here you go with the tips for your shoulder:

Gomukhasana (Cow Face):

1. Sit in Vajrasana or Sit with your legs crisscrossed, placing one knee on top of the other.

2. Raise your right arm, fold it at the elbow, take your right palm behind your back, and take your left palm behind the back from down. Now your right elbow is pointing to the ceiling, and your left is pointing to the floor.

3. Try to hold your palms behind your back. If not, you can also use the belt, as shown in the image.

4. Repeat on the other side.

5. Breath, and hold for five breaths.

Forward fold with Clasp:

1. Stand with feet one foot distance apart or into a wide-legged position. You can also try this by sitting in Vajrasana.

2. Clasp your finger behind your back, inhale deeply, and open your chest.

3. With an exhale, soften your knees and fold forward, letting the head fall toward the ground and gently releasing the neck.

4. Aim your clasp hands to the floor beyond your head. Stay here for five deep breaths.

Ardha Uttanasana with the wall:

1. Stand an arm’s distance away from the wall. Inhale, lengthen your spine up, and raise your arms.

2. With an exhale, extend your spine and fold forward halfway through, making a 90 degree at your pelvic.

3. Place your palms on the wall, fingers pointing to the ceiling, and sink your chest towards the floor. Feel the opening in shoulder joints.

4. Breath. Hold for five breaths and repeat.

Reverse Prayer:

1. Sit in Vajrasana, or you may choose to stand with your feet together, float arms down to either side of your body and, bending elbows, reach arms behind your back.

2. Press palms together in a prayer position on the spine and reach hands as high up as feels good.

3. Stay here for five deep breaths.

In addition to these Practices, you can also explore a Shoulder focused themed session we are running this month every Thursday at 07:15 am with Lalit. You can also explore the Shoulder Focused Sessions in the Library, go to the Video Library, hit the search button.

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Yoga For Disc Bulges and Protrusions

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<b>Eveanna</b><br>Ālaya Yoga

Eveanna
Ālaya Yoga

Yoga for Disc Bulges and Protrusions

 
 
 
We get multiple questions from our clients about different medical conditions. This week we got a question from a new client about starting yoga with disc bulges. We know that this is an issue with many of our clients and we wanted to share our thoughts on this issue.
 
“Hi there- I just found out I have 2 disc bulges in my lower back, my doctor has suggested yoga, is there anything I should know before I start a class?
David, Dublin 
 
It’s great that David’s GP suggested yoga, and we are delighted that he wrote into us so we could guide him. 
 
While we are always pleased to hear that doctors are referring their clients to holistic therapeutic practices such as yoga to manage these issues, there are some precautions that we should take when starting yoga when we have disc bulges.
 
Yoga is extremely therapeutic for disc bulges specifically for Lumbar Disc Protrusions.
 
Disc protrusions cause instability in the spine and as ligaments cannot be strengthened with yoga (or any excercise) we want to strengthen the muscles around the spine to counteract this lack of stability. Yoga also nourishes and aids healing of the spine by bringing fresh blood flow to this area. And when we improve our posture and core strength with yoga we can reduce pain or future bulges from occuring 
 
While yoga is a wonderful tool to aid recovery, a general flow class may not be appropriate without the proper modifications applied.

 Yoga is extremely therapeutic for disc bulges specifically for Lumbar Disc Protrusions.

Before we get to the yoga, what is a disc bulge?

A disc bulge refers to an extension or prolapse of disc tissues beyond the edges of the edge of vertebrae. In some cases this bulge can press on the nerve causing mild or severe pain depending on severity. 
 
Around 30% of the population have disc bulges, and we want to prevent them from progressing to fully herniated discs which can cause a host of issues such as lower back pain, sciatica, and even complete immobility due to pain in some extreme cases.
 
The issue with attending a general spectrum yoga class, especially without your teacher being informed about your disc bulges is that any forward folding (flexion) could exasperate a bulge. 
 
Now, there are yoga Asana (poses) that are extremely helpful for disc protrusion, however, they should be done in isolation, not in a general class that also includes a forward fold.
 
Any deep flexion, especially with a rounded back, could potentially turn your bulge into a full prolapse. 
 
Guidelines for practicing safely with a disc bulge 
  • Avoid forward folds or flexion if possible, bend knees 
  • If you do incorporate them into your practice, ensure you keep your chin forward and avoid rounding your spine, when we round our spine, and forward fold at the same time it pushes the prolapsed disc further towards the edge of the vertebrae 

How Yoga Can Help 

If we look at the issue of forward folds (flexion) bringing the disc further towards the edge of the vertebrae, we can see how back bends, or extension of the spine would do the opposite- bring the disc back towards the other side of the spine (where it should be!) 
 
With this in mind here is a sequence you can practice daily to aid recovery from 

Morning Time

5 x sphinx pose, held for 5 breaths followed by 5 baby cobra or full cobra held for 5 breaths. 
 
1 x Setu Bandhansana held for 10 breaths (you can use a foam yoga block to support your lower back here) 
 
From Setu Bandhasana bring one with both knees bent and feet planted on the floor bring place your hands behind one and bring it towards your chest until you feel a slight pull. Hold this for 15 seconds and do both sides. 

Evening Time

5 x Setu Bandhasana held for 5 breaths (you can use a foam yoga block to support your lower back here) 
 
From Setu Bandhasana bring one with both knees bent and feet planted on the floor bring place your hands behind one and bring it towards your chest until you feel a slight pull. Hold this for 15 seconds and do both sides. 
Attending a Yoga Class 
 
If you do attend a yoga class, remember the principle for avoiding or modifying your forward folds and keep your knees bent where possible- and most importantly, let your yoga teacher know so they can keep you safe with modifcations. 
 
Off the mat 
 
Don’t just apply these principle to yoga. When you get off your mat and head home to do the housework, take care of your family, or finally clean out the garage- the same principles apply. Avoid forward folding to avoid placing unnecessary pressure on the anterior portion of the disc.
 
Remember, always get medical clearance from your doctor, listen closely to your body, and avoid anything that causes you pain. 
 
Do you have any questions for us about this topic? What about another issue you are facing around injury, accessibility or anything related to your practise
 
Drop them in the comments- we love to hear from you! 
 

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Yoga To Improve Posture

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<b>Sarah</b><br>Ālaya Yoga

Sarah
Ālaya Yoga

Yoga To Improve Posture

YOGA FOR IMPROVE POSTURE

In today’s modern world of technology, we spend a long time on our phones, watching television, working away on our computers or scrolling through social media. Spending long hours hunched over on a chair or slouching on a couch can have adverse effects on our bodies. Especially for people who work in corporate jobs and a large chunk of their day just involves sitting in front of a computer.

This causes strain on your spine. Being hunched over for long durations can leave you feeling stiff in your body, and it can also cause irreversible damage to your posture and your spine. When we’re young, we’re all told to sit with our backs straight because maintaining good posture is so important for our bodies. As we grow older, however, and our work demands that we do the very opposite of sitting straight, our body slowly over time forms a habit of slouching. This may over time cause pain in your lower back, shoulders, and even your hamstrings.

This lifestyle brings with it the need to stretch and lengthen your body so that you can lessen the strain on your spine and your back from constantly being in a closed position. When you’re slouching, your breath is more shallow. Shallow breathing is the act of taking in a minimal breath, so your lungs don’t expand as they should. Rapid or shallow breathing can cause dry mouth, fatigue, or can even turn into panic attacks. Shallow breathing can also aggravate respiratory problems that may already exist.

As you practice regularly, you also gain a deeper awareness of the alignment of your own body and you may even find yourself making adjustments to your posture.

YOGA FOR POSTURE

Yoga can help your posture in numerous ways. The practise of stretching and lengthening your spine as you do in many yoga asanas can help reverse the damage that slouching may cause. It can help loosen up the muscles that may feel tight, but also, it can help you feel more relaxed in your body. With regular practice, yoga can also help alleviate any pain you may be feeling in your body.

As you practice regularly, you also gain a deeper awareness of the alignment of your own body and you may even find yourself making adjustments to your posture.

ASANAS THAT HELP WITH GOOD POSTURE

Backbends –

Asanas such as the cobra pose (Bhujangasana), wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) and fish pose (Matsyasana) are all great for reversing the effects of a hunched back. These poses focus on lengthening the spine as well as opening the chest so you get a stretch all through the front of your body.

Twists –

Spinal twists are a great tool to help improve your posture. Triangle pose (Trikonasana), Supine spinal twist (Supta Matsyendrasana), chair twist (Parivrtta Utkatasana) as well as the eye of the needle (Sucirandhrasana) are poses that help you lengthen, strengthen and release any tension that you may be holding all throughout your back, and in your shoulders. They can also help alleviate any pain you may be feeling in your body due to bad posture.

Grounding poses-

Standing and grounding poses such as tree pose (Vrikshasana) are great to help you achieve balance and stability in your body. Mountain pose (Tadasana) in particular, is a great pose to help correct muscle imbalances as well as enhance posture. It also helps to deepen your own awareness of how small adjustments in your body can help you feel mental as well as physically more aligned in your posture.

PRANAYAMA

The breathwork involved in yoga gives you the chance to focus on your breath more and to find some time to be present in the busy schedules that we all endure in today’s world. When we’re doing pranayama or any kind of meditation, it’s also important to sit straight and keep in mind that your spine is long and your back is straight so that all the energy channels in your body are aligned. 

But more than that, finding even 10 minutes in your daily routine to sit and focus on breathing evenly and deeply can provide you with so many health benefits. It can help reduce stress, calm your mind, reduce high blood pressure and increase lung function. Pranayama offers many different breathing exercises that work to reverse the damage caused to your lungs through shallow breathing for long durations. Bhrammari breath (bee breath), Alternate nose breathing (Nadi Shodhana), as well as Nadi Shodhana with breath retention (Kumbhaka) are some pranayama exercises you can use during your practice.

If you’re in a profession that has you sitting for long durations, make sure to get off your chair and walk around every 20-30 minutes so that your body can readjust. There are even some chest opening asanas that you can do sitting in your chair.

Conclusion

It can be hard to be aware of your posture all the time. Yoga can directly target back problems, and help you fix your posture over time. You need only take little steps in your daily routine to combat bad posture. A little bit of mindfulness can go a long way to prevent injury or strain to your body. Even a small consistent practice can help you feel lighter in your body and your mind so that you have increased productivity the next day.

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