Guest Blogger, Dan: still smiling…despite side crow

Forgive me I have sinned, I didn’t listen.

 

I didn’t listen to my own body. After a week and a half away from the hot room, I jumped straight into a Traditional Pilates and assumed I could take whatever the class threw at me. I went too hard, too fast and had to reap the consequences which are far too graphic for you dear reader. Suffice to say I have been humbled by that first lesson back. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

 

Something I’ve both learned and been educated about in the class is the mental attitude that you bring into the room. This might sound basic to you but it was a revelation to me, just by saying to myself “I can do this” gave me more stamina and the ability to complete a set. Add to this something that was mentioned by Paula, which is to smile while you are in the room, no matter what you are doing. This feeds me and pushes me on, I am enjoying the class, so why am I grimacing my way through it? There are floor to ceiling mirrors in front of me and I even look prettier (ish) if I’m smiling back at myself. This again helps to increase stamina and pushes me on.

 

Thats not to say that I’m grinning like the Cheshire Cat at all times during the classes. When it comes to mountain climber or the 100, there isn’t a joke created that could make me smile. I’ve also recently become acquainted with the Hindu Press Up, the burpee’s yoga powered sibling. This move elicits faces from me that shouldn’t be seen outside of a birthing suite, that goes for the grunts too.

 

The tri-dynamic classes are to blame for the whole raft of names that I now know, it is also to blame for the bruised butt I got from trying side crow. Apparently bakasana alone was not enough, but at this point it is beyond me.

 

I’ll keep smiling though and I will get it.

 

Namaste kids.

 

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Yoga and Hamstring Pain

 

By @Jennie_Ay

 

The hamstrings are three muscles (the semimembranosus, the semitendinosus and the bicep femoris) which run through the back of the thighs. The hamstrings function to flex the knee and assist in hip extension and so are active at multiple points of the yoga asana practice. Accordingly, hamstring injuries are common amongst yoga students due to the excessive repetition of hamstring contraction.

The hamstrings are three muscles which run through the back of the thighs. The semimembranosus and the semitendinosus originate at the ischial tuberosity (the sit bone) and insert into the tibia. The bicep femoris also originates at ischial tuberosity but has a second origin point at the back of the femur (thigh bone) and goes on to insert into the top of the fibula and the upper outisde part of the tibia.
The hamstrings are three muscles which run through the back of the thighs. The semimembranosus and the semitendinosus originate at the ischial tuberosity (the sit bone) and insert into the tibia. The bicep femoris also originates at ischial tuberosity but has a second origin point at the back of the femur (thigh bone) and goes on to insert into the top of the fibula and the upper outisde part of the tibia.

 

Hamstring injuries suffered on the yoga mat are usually high tendon injuries at the point of the hamstring origin (the sit bones). Such injuries are usually referred to as “hamstring tendonitis”. However, the name “hamstring tendinopathy” may be a more accurate description of high hamstring tendon injuries as research suggests that this injury is more a degenerative than inflammatory process. 

 

Hamstring Tendon Injuries

 

Tendons are bands of connective tissue which attach muscle to bone. The point at which a muscle meets a tendon is known as the musculotendinous junction and the point at which a tendon inserts into a bone is known as the the osteotendinous junction.

 

Yoga based high hamstring tendon injuries tend to occur at the musculotendinous junction in one of the tendons of the hamstring muscles at the origin point of the sit bone. These injuries develop over time as the the collagen fibrils which make up the tendon become frayed and damaged as a result of:

 

(1) Excessive tension of the hamstring tendons

 

This is caused by excessive hamstring contraction from doing too many intense hamstring stretches and/or overstretching the hamstrings in certain postures. The amount of tension placed on the tendon is influenced by factors such as volume (time spent under contraction), frequency (number of times on the yoga mat per week) and the intensity of the contraction.

 

(2) Insufficient rest to allow the healing of tiny tendon tears

 

Any time you stretch a muscle, it pulls on its tendons, creating microscopic tears. If you wait 24 to 48 hours between practice sessions then these tiny tears heal. However, it is common for yoga students and teachers to proceed with their practice following a “little niggle” to the top of the hamstrings. Yet this little niggle is a tiny tear to the hamstring tendon which will eventually form adhesive scar tissue intended to protect the tendon as it heals. Unfortunately, this scar tissue can also limit circulation to a tendon (which already has a poor blood supply) and will ultimately make it harder for the injury to heal. 

 

Weak hamstring tendons (as a result of weak hamstring muscles) or a failure to adequately engage the hamstring muscles can also be a factor in the development of a high hamstring tendon injury.

 

Common Symptoms

 

(1) Pain/discomfort at the back of the top of the thigh and into the buttock

Pain at the top of the thigh and/or into the buttock

Pain at the top of the thigh and/or into the buttock

 

(2) Pain/discomfort when placing deep pressure at the point of the sit bones 

 

(3) Pain/discomfort when sitting on a hard surface

 

(4) Pain/discomfort which is exacerbated by forward folding asanas such as Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) and Intense Side Stretch Pose Parsvottanasana.

 

Yoga students with hamstring tendon injuries often report feeling their hamstring “go” as though it is an acute injury done on the mat in a specific stretch. However, hamstring tendon injuries tends to be caused by excessive weakening of the tendon over time as a result of excessive over stretching and insufficient rest.

 

Treatment

 

Continuing to practice on a injured tendon will result in an injury which will continue to cause you pain and is unlikely to ever fully heal.

 

Treatment for high tendon hamstring injuries begins with an initial rest period followed by a programme to strengthen the hamstrings. However, if you have moderate to severe pain, or pain that persists despite a period of rest then you need to seek treatment from your GP or physio. 

 

 

 

 

Related Articles by Absolute Yoga (Liverpool)

 

 

 

Want to try a class at Absolute Yoga (Liverpool)? The first class is free for new students and then choose from…

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 Information for New Students at Absolute Yoga, Crosby (Liverpool)

  • Please see here for a list of classes which we recommend for your first time on the mat with us
  • You may also wish to read our FAQ on yoga and Pilates 
  • Your first class is free and then you can choose from one of the new member introductory offers: £30 for 30 days or £40 for 40 days

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“The thicker and deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms”

 

By @Jennie_Ay

Most yoga students are aware that “Lotus” (Padmasana) is a seated posture which opens up the hips and strengthens the spine. The posture is often performed during the practice of pranayama techniques and also meditation. Indeed, one of the original purposes of the asana practice, limb three of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, was to strengthen the spine and open up the hips so that the physical body of the yogi (Annamaya Kosha) could be still and silent throughout the journey through limbs five, six, seven and eight: pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi.

 

However, in addition to being the name of a well known yoga asana, the flower is also spiritually symbolic in Eastern religion and Indian tradition. The studio logo of Absolute Yoga, Crosby (Liverpool) depicts an Eastern Buddha sitting within three open lotus flowers and many Indian deities are portrayed sitting on an open lotus flower or holding a lotus flower. 

 

Absolute Yoga, Crosby (Liverpool)

Lotus FlowerLotus flowers grow from the bottom of muddy, murky ponds and eventually bloom as beautiful flowers above the water surface. When seated in Lotus pose, the open position of the legs represent the petals of an open lotus flower. However, symbolically, the lotus flower itself represents being grounded and connected to the earth whilst growing and aspiring towards the divine. 

 

The lotus is often seen as a sign of enlightenment and divinity and, in Buddhism, the flower represents awakening and spiritual growth. However, it is also symbolic of strength and resolve in times of darkness because, although it lives in muddy water, it continues to grow towards the sunlight and remains unscathed. In fact, it is said that the thicker and deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms.

 

Lotus

 

 

Special Offers

 Information for New Students at Absolute Yoga, Crosby (Liverpool)

 

  • Please see here for a list of classes which we recommend for your first time on the mat with us
  • You may also wish to read our FAQ on yoga and Pilates 
  • Your first class is free and then you can choose from one of the new member introductory offers: £30 for 30 days or £40 for 40 days

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  • For class descriptions, see here

 

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Dealing with Wrist Pain in Downward Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Facing Dog, is a yoga posture which has many benefits to offer the yoga practitioner such as stretching out the hamstrings, back, shoulders and calves and generally strengthening the arms and legs.

However, some people find that they are unable to reap the rewards associated with Downward Facing Dog (DFD) because they are unable to comfortably hold this posture due to wrist pain that they experience whilst in the pose.

Wrist pain in DFD is a common complaint and can usually be addressed by correcting the student’s alignment particularly at the fingers, hands and the wrists. However, in some cases, alignment correction will not solve the problem and the student must seek alternative solutions. 

If you suffer with wrist pain in DFD then follow the guidelines below to bring an end to this problem so that you can begin to experience the benefits that holding Adho Mukha Svanasana has to offer your asana practice.

1. Check your alignment

Wrist pain in DFD is usually caused by incorrect alignment of the fingers, thumbs, hands and wrists. Ensure that you are spreading and creating lots of space between all of the fingers. Let the middle finger face forward and rotate the index finger slightly towards the thumb. To prevent wrist injuries, follow the guidelines in the image below.

Wrist

In particular, you should press all fingers into the mat but especially the index finger and thumb and the base of the little finger. Lift up from the wrist and do not let this area collapse down. 

See here for more information on preparing for and performing DFD. If you are following the correct alignment shown in the image above but you still feel pain in your wrists then try some of the suggestions below. 

2. Alter the angle of your wrists

You can do this by rolling up a yoga mat or towel and placing it under the hands. Alternatively, you could use a foam wedge which is a yoga prop that will reduce the flexion of the wrist by about 10% in DFD. 

4

(Image from Body Positive Yoga. See here to read a fantastic article on Downward Facing Dog for Beginners). 

3. Try an alternative posture

If you are still experiencing wrist pain, or perhaps arthritis is causing you discomfort in this posture, then another option is to try Dolphin pose by lowering the forearms to the mat as shown in the image below (shoulder distance apart and parallel to each other). However, Dolphin is quite an intense posture and, whilst addressing the issue of wrist pain in Downward Facing Dog, it is quite challenging to hold this posture and requires a certain amount of upper body strength.

Dolphin

4. Perform the posture against a wall

Downward Facing Dog can be performed against a wall and will still offer the same benefits as the floor posture but without the added wrist pressure. Place the hands on the wall shoulder-distance apart and at shoulder height. Press into the wall with the hands, just as you would against the floor, and lift the sit bones up and back, lengthen the spine, push the shoulder blades down towards the tailbone and hold the head between the arms. 

Wall dog

4. Try some wrist stretches

Wrist stretches can elongate the muscles surrounding the wrist helping to reduce aches and pains in this area. Reach the right arm out in front of you with palm facing down. Use your left hand to lift the right palm up, as though you are trying to point the fingers towards the ceiling. Return the palm to a downward facing position and now, using the left had, press lightly on the back of the hand so that the fingers now face downwards. Repeat on the left side.  

Wrist 2

If you have worked your way through all of these suggestions and you still experience wrist pain then do not perform this asana. There is no requirement in yoga that you become a master of all postures. Instead, take Balasana, keep the connection with your breath and join back in on the next posture in the sequence.

This is the second article in the series taking a closer look Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). The other two articles can be viewed here:

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). 

Anatomy trains in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).

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