I have been spending the month of August exploring the style of yoga known as Viniyoga. I was first introduced to this method through the work of T.K.V. Desikachar. As the son of one of the greatest yogis, Krishnamacharya, Desikachar has carried down his father’s teachings in a very comprehensive yet practical manner.
In his book, “The Heart of Yoga“, Desikachar addresses the importance of adaptation and customization in yoga. The fundamental principle of the Viniyoga tradition is that an individual should begin from his/her own starting point. From there, a student is directed to develop a practice with techniques designed to promote self-awareness.
Focusing on the Breath
Viniyoga’s main position is that the breath and movement should be linked. While many forms of hatha yoga reference the breath, it is the repetition and rhythm of coordinating the movement and breath that is key to Viniyoga. Continue reading “What is Viniyoga?”→
My quest for August will be to explore the teachings of Viniyoga. Over the years, I have found this particular style of yoga attractive because it represents the way yoga can serve as therapy. The method stems from the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya, T.K.V. Desikachar and, more recently, Gary Kraftsow. In a nutshell, Viniyoga “tweaks” the traditional poses in order to address specific ailments. Foremost, it works closely with the breath by presenting the poses in a vinyasa (or flow-like) manner.
Below, I have provided a short posture sequence for reducing upper back tension and/or the curvature disorder called kyphosis. Unfortunately, we are seeing this condition occuring more and more frequently with the increase in computer and cell phone usage. Left unattended, this posture bias can adversely affect breathing and other system functions. Continue reading “Putting the Kibosh on Kyphosis”→
This is a DEEP subject, but if you made it through this week’s YOLY Challenge, you should now be more acquainted with your postural alignment. Let’s look a bit further.
What did you discover?
Did you have to strain to keep your head against the back of the wall?
Which parts of your shoulders could touch the wall?
Did your calves touch the wall?
Did you have a difficult time keeping your lower back away from the wall?
Here are some yoga postures that can target these specific postural areas:
If your head did not move back easily toward the wall, your upper back may be rounded and resistant to correct alignment. The term for a rounded upper back is kyphosis. By stretching and lengthening the front body, you give the back body less resistance to resume its neutral position. Eventually, the head may move back to be in line with your spine. Bhujangasana(Cobra), Sphinx or Matsyasana (Fish) can open and lengthen the front body.
If your shoulders had difficulty reaching the wall, then it may be connected to kyphosis as in #1. If you could keep your shoulder blades at the wall but not the outer portion of your shoulders, try these poses to increase your shoulder’s range of motion: Purvottansana (Upward Plank), Garudasana (Eagle) and Gomukasana (Cow Face).
If your legs were not able to remain long and straight as you stood, you may have trouble lengthening your hamstrings. Work with Supta Hasta Pandangusthasana (Supine Hand to Foot Pose) to expand your range.
A flat back can be connected to short hamstrings as in #3 (see the trend here?). In addition to the short hamstrings, you may need to improve your hip flexibility. Setu Bandha (Bridge) and Cat/Cow are gentle ways to bring more movement into your hip joints and lower spine.
Please know that genetics/structural differences are the reason for many of our postural imbalances. These alignment issues have been years in the making, therefore, we need to work slowly and gently in order to evoke changes.
If you are healthy, you can use yoga slowly and with guidance to remedy your situation. However, if you have spinal pain, scoliosis or any serious degenerative issues, please refer to your physician before attempting yoga. And, always, “Pay Attention – Practice Mindfully.”