This video is Part 16 of a YogaSynergy Spinal Movements Sequence taught by physiotherapist and Director of Yoga Synergy, Simon Borg-Olivier, which he teaches in person in courses throughout the world as well as Online in courses at RMIT University and Online in courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga.
Each extension movement is followed by a flexion movement of the spine. The downward facing dog pose gives the straight spine effect combined with the sitting bones moving forward and the thighs moving backward.
This sequence of postures and movements is sometimes referred to as a vinyâsa or a salute to the sun sequence (surya namaskara vinyâsa). It has several main postures that when done correctly can enliven the spine and internal organs.
Another reason why these salute sequences are done early in our practice and in most traditional practices is because of the effect on the breath and its results on the nervous system and the physiology of the body. The movements of the arms up and down as well as spine bending forward and backward tend to cause increased breathing and a tendency towards mild hyperventilation (breathing more than normal), which tends to rid the body of any accumulated acidic toxins as well as makes the body a little bit more flexible my alkalising the joint fluid. It is really important however for a beginner to maintain natural breathing during this practice or else they risk really suffering from the effects of hyperventilation, which include dizziness, nausea, asthma, skin rashes, emotional problems and excessive hunger after practice.
1. ‘Standing erect posture’ (Tadâsana) can be modified by bending the knees slightly and being as relaxed as possible with natural breathing.This allows a natural lengthening of the spine with gravity. Natural breathing is the best breathing through the practice at least in the beginning until all the postures and movements are totally understood and stable.
2. Half squat posture’ (Utkatâsana) can be modified and simplified by bending the knees only slightly, only lifting the arms up a little and by not raising the head. It is important that for people who can never relax the muscles in their lower back (most modern Western bodies) that you make the spine more lengthened and relaxed by having the shoulders directly above the hips as opposed to having the shoulders in front of the hips as many people do (and as I have also done in this video) otherwise the lower back can become more tense, less mobile and if there is nerve entrapment or pain it can not be easily alleviated until the back muscles are able to relax.
3. ‘Standing hands-to-floor posture’ (Hasta uttanâsana) can be modified by bending the knees as much as you need to touch the floor (avoid this sequence unless you can touch the floor comfortably at least with you knees bent).
4. ‘Pendulum posture’ (Lolâsana), which involved balancing in the air on your hands in its final form, can be modified by simply leaning onto your hands and taking as much weight off your feet and onto your hands. Or, when this posture is done in the floor sequence you can simply step to a easy ‘Kneeling plank posture’ (Janu san tolanâsana). It is important to understand that this posture is a forward bend of the spine, i.e. the back of the body had been lengthening, but in order to lift the head up the front of the body has to be lengthened too , by moving the navel forward and upwards. To achieve a powerful by relaxed lift in the body to the ‘Pendulum posture’ (Lolâsana) and eventually the handstand it is helpful to push the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) downwards and the top of the hips (iliac crests) upwards, to push the ribs away from the floor and the navel towards the floor. When these adjustments are made, this should naturally engage the rectus abdominis (the ‘6-pack muscle’) and then make it possible to do as Sri K. Pattabhi Jois instructed and use a diaphragmatic (abdominal) inhalation to increase the intrabdominal pressure and effortlessly lift into the air.
5. ‘Push-up posture’ (Cataranga dandâsana) can be modified by being in an easy ‘Kneeling plank posture’ (Janu san tolanâsana) or moving to a simple ‘Kneeling push-up posture’ (Janu cataranga dandâsana). In this posture it is important to not collapse into passive elbow flexion and to not crease the skin of the back of the body.
6. ‘Upward-facing dog posture’ (Urdhva mukha svanâsana) can be modified by simply lying on the abdomen and perhaps coming to a simple ‘Half cobra posture’ (Ardha bhujangâsana) or by staying in an easy ‘Kneeling plank posture’ (Janu san tolanâsana). It is important to ensure that in the simple or complete versions of the ‘Upward-facing dog posture’ (Urdhva mukha svanâsana) that it is the front of body getting longer and not the back of the body getting shorter. To achieve this it important to lengthen the front of the hips by moving the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) downwards and the top of the hips (iliac crests) upwards. Then it also helps to use the diaphragm to begin a complete breath at base of the pelvic floor and use it to help to move the navel forward and upward. Activation of the diaphragm (the main muscle of abdominal inhalation) can reciprocally relax the back muscles that are active on complete abdominal exhalation. Adjusting the hips and the navel as described above should activate the rectus abdominis (the main spinal flexor muscle), which will help to reciprocally relax the back muscles (the spinal extensor group) and make it easier to free any compression in the L5-S1 region of the spine and allow the spine to be more mobile in general.
You can see Part 15 of the instructional videos of the sequence by clicking here
You can see a demonstration of the the entire sequence by clicking HERE
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