SMARTer bodies

Tag Archives: movement educators

SMARTer Yoga: Finding Balance Through Fluid Movement

We are itching to share how we teach with you and thought this sequence would be the best one to start with.  This one is tough, because it emphasizes fluidity and curvature as opposed to creating straight lines in the body.  You’ll find that the purpose of this it to help you find balance that comes from sharp focus and deep work in the stabilizing core muscles and deep work in the feet.  We’ve set up the postures so that you do not be prop up on your joints like when completely straightening a leg.  This ensures that you rely on muscle work.
  • You’ll notice that throughout this sequence we emphasize rolling up and down through the spine as opposed to the more traditional extended spine one sees in yoga classes.  We prefer to do this here so as to keep the movement focused throughout the spine as opposed to in the hips (hinging with a “flat” back).
  • Also, there are many ways in which to modify and progress this sequence.  If you have questions about that feel free to ask us!
Enjoy!  Let us know what you think!  We promise, soon this will be on video.  But we hope that you will print this out and take it with you to the vacation places where a computer is not accessible.  Those are the best vacations! And aren’t our cartoon yoginis nifty?!  They were done by the magnificent Kira Greene.  For that reason alone you should be marveling in awe 🙂
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Please note: Throughout this sequence the toes of the back foot are aligned with front of the mat.
Small Step back into a short (stance) High-Lunge.
Lower the arms, roll down and then roll up back to High-Lunge.
With the arms up step the back foot forward and switch sides (repeat from the rolling down and up)
Move into a forward bend (rolling up and down)
1) Set up the short High-Lunge
#1, short-stance high lunge
Lower the arms, roll down and place the hands on the floor (hands framing the front foot). *Extra points for not using your hands; let the back of the hands dangle and touch the ground.
2) Work towards straightening the front leg back; stop when you feel sensation in the belly of the hamstring (2 breaths)
#2 inactive hands while straightening the front leg
On an inhale bend the front leg and roll up returning to High-Lunge. (Keep in mind that the bend in the front leg will not be anywhere near reaching a 90 degree angle; you are setting up for a short-stance High-Lunge)
With the arms up step the back foot forward and switch sides (repeat everything from the roll down)
Forward bend (rolling up and down)
*If people want a variation the can hold on to the ankles, extend the spine and relax back into flexion and even use the arms to deepen the bend (knees soft/bent, not straight)
3) Set up High-Lunge with a longer stance; front leg will bend more now.
Lower the arms, roll down and place the hands on the floor (hands framing the front foot).
#3 Much larger stance now.
4) Take the back knee to the floor and work towards straightening the front leg back; stop when you feel sensation in the belly of the front leg hamstring.
On an inhale bend the front leg, lift the back knee off the floor and roll up returning to High-Lunge.
#4 knee is on the floor while you try straightening the front leg back
With the arms up step the back foot forward and switch sides (repeat everything from the roll down)
Skipping forward bend…
Set up High-Lunge with a longer stance.
Much larger stance now.
Lower the arms, roll down and place the hands on the floor (hands framing the front foot).
Take the back knee to the floor and work towards straightening the front leg back; stop when you feel sensation in the belly of the hamstring
Now put the hand that is on the opposite side of the front foot on the top of the front foot.
The other hand moves to the hip or rests on the sacrum
5) Twist (closed twist; twisting towards the front leg) keeping the back knee still on the floor and while trying to straighten the front leg.
#5 twist towards you front leg
*You may not get to straighten the front leg as much as you are used to.
(3 – 5 breaths)
Untwist, replace the hands to frame the front foot
On an inhale bend the front leg, lift the back knee off the floor and roll up returning to High-Lunge.
With the arms up step the back foot forward and switch sides (repeat everything from the roll down). Try to keep your gaze on the floor the entire time.
Set up High-Lunge with a longer stance.
Lower the arms, roll down and place the hands on the floor (hands framing the front foot).
Take the back knee to the floor and work towards straightening the front leg back; stop when you feel sensation in the belly of the hamstring
Now put the hand that is on the opposite side of the front foot on the top of the front foot.
The other hand moves to the hip or rests on the sacrum
Twist (closed twist; twisting towards the front leg) keeping the back knee still on the floor and negotiating the stretch in the front leg.
*This time try picking up the back knee off the floor, if you can keep it up even as you untwist
(3 – 5 breaths)
Untwist, replace the hands to frame the front foot
On an inhale bend the front leg, lift the back knee off the floor (if it wasn’t already up) and roll up returning to High-Lunge.
With the arms up step the back foot forward and switch sides (repeat everything from the roll down)
Forward Bend here with whatever variation feels best in the moment.
While in the forward bend and with as passive hands/arms as possible move back into a long lunge, moving into a straight front leg stretch.
6) Inhale front knee forward into a bend. Extend through the spine (head to tail, or tail to head), place the hands on the sacrum and lift up into Warrior  3.  (hold for at least 3 breaths)
#6 Warrior 3 with no arms
Prepare to return the back foot to the floor, While doing so place the opposite hand on the top of the front foot, other hand stays on hip or sacrum.
#7 staying twisted while landing
Twist while landing into Twisted Triangle
(This is where all the movement being explored before comes together)
7) You can let the top arm float up or not, depends on how well aware one is of the spine, ribs, scapula, sternum and shoulder girdles and where they really are in space (fancy way of saying don’t fling the top arm back).
#8 voila: twisted triangle
Untwist to passively laying the torso over the front leg
Try not to use arms/hands as you return to a forward bend stepping the back foot to the front.
Roll up, Roll down, repeat.
To finish one can cool down with forward bends with bent legs, or lay down and do knee circles, or lay down and do pelvic movements.

Get to Now Movements Afoot

Readers!  We want you to know about all the cool movement resources that exist out there for you.  Movements Afoot has a particular in with the Pilates crowd as it is known as a “pilates wellness center.” Also, the fact that one of our favorite movement educators, Amy Matthews, is a staff member only ups the coolness factor for us.   Lesley Powell, the founder of Movements Afoot, is also Read More

What SMARTerBodies Thinks About the New York Times Article

There has been so much controversy within the yoga community ever since Glenn Black was quoted in last week’s New York Times article. Many teachers have been outraged and offended by the article’s seemingly new revelation that a physical yoga practice can hurt you. There is a plethora of reactionary blog posts, Facebook messages and tweets that accuse Glenn Black and NYT of producing at the least a sensationalist piece of journalism and at the worst threatening the place of yoga in mainstream America and in the hearts and minds of many followers. We have completely lost patience for many of these responses as they seem to reveal a lack of critical thinking, threatening the integrity of teachers as it seems they did not read the article thoroughly before responding. It’s time to put an end to all the emotional arguing and time to address what was actually being said. Read More

Repattern the Body and Repattern Yourself

We recently wrote about muscle memory.  Click here to read that post.  It makes sense to follow that up with an explanation for how our work can apply.

Somatic work helps to give people the freedom of choice follow the same old pattern or to consciously change.

In the physical body, someone chooses one path of movement over another because of their movement history, body type and compensation patterns. Most of the time this is done unconsciously. The problem is that because of the quick adaptation of our neural pathways (muscle memory some call it) the more we do a particular movement pattern, the quicker we are to choose that pathway over another and we lose our options over time. This imbalance eventually leads to problems and injuries.  This same process applies to emotions. If we choose one emotion to react with (because of our unconscious habits and emotional history), the body quickly learns to prepare for this reaction in the future, and the faster the reaction will occur, limiting the possibility for choices.

To give a concrete example:

Unresolved emotional trauma can manifest as anxiety or depression. Breathing in someone who is anxious or depressed can be  unhealthy or inefficient.  Usually their breathing is so challenged, some may have this diagnosed as asthma or allergies.  Serious digestive problems can also be attributed to an inability to breathe well.  Short and tight inhalations, which are typical in individuals who don’t cope well with stress, lead to an over adrenalized, revved-up nervous system and aching kidneys.

So much of this can be resolved by breaking down mal-addaptive breathing patterns and finding new places for the breath to reach.  In doing so, you calm the nervous system, your organs, and create a physical environment in which the body can better function and the mind can find another way to process a stressful trigger.  Breaking the previous breathing pattern and finding a new way to breathe is like release the hold the anxiety or depression may have.  This is how therapeutic movement that helps to facilitate awareness of breathing and the body in direct relation is fantastic for releasing stored up emotion.

On an even deeper level:

The automatic reaction resides in the nervous system and in the emotional body, the endocrine system: Our hormones.  The endocrine system is a global system, meaning that the hormones are not restricted to our nervous systems, but affect our entire body! For instance, if our body releases epinephrine (adrenaline) due to fear or anxiety, this causes the blood vessels to dilate, the digestive system to slow, the heart rate to increase, the pupils to dilate, and switches our metabolism to release triglycerides (fats) into the bloodstream to be used as fuel. etc. Now imagine that every time we experience fear, all of these things are happening! This affects the health of ALL of our organs at once! Not only that, but the more it happens, the faster this response happens, and the less options for other reactions we have. Over time, this can easily tax our whole body. Another example is if we are holding stress or anger.

This is one of the reasons why therapy and movement are SO important. Our job as movement educators is to educate our clients of these dangers and teach techniques to avoid chronic stress and maintain a happy, healthy life!

Tips for Office Workers

Last weekend Kim and I taught a great workshop at Reebok. Geared towards tired office workers and computer users, the information was very much appreciated and we look forward to doing it again! We realize that more people need this information, so we’ve decided to post the tip sheet we handed out. Definitely email us if you have questions, or leave a comment. Also, if you love what you’re reading think of how much better it would be if Kim and I came to your office and gave the workshop there! Contact us also if you’d like to book us for corporate classes and workshops. Read More

True Health through Movement: Three Secrets that Maybe You DIDN’T Know

There has been A LOT of talk in the media about “Good Health” and how to achieve it. In fact, in America it seems to be a national pastime! Shows like “Dr. Phil” and “Dr. Oz” as well as “The Doctors” are extremely popular daytime mega-hits. Health and Diet books are also huge best-sellers, from “The Atkins’ Diet” all the way to “The South Beach Diet”. So if we Americans are so obsessed with the concept of “Good Health”, then why is it that the youngest generation, aged 0-25, looks to be the first generation that will live shorter and less healthier lives than their own parents? Read More