Ever since my last yoga workshop (see Arm Balance Clinic), I’ve wanted to go to another because it was so amazing! Recently, another opportunity presented itself in the form of a TWO and A HALF HOUR technique workshop! I’m all for improving form/technique so I jumped at the chance 🙂 Here is a recap of my experience:
To prepare for a 2.5 hr long session (longest classes I’ve ever been in are 1.5 hrs), I made sure to fuel and hydrate up over an hour before class, so I wouldn’t ‘get the munchies’ half way through (which I did, but that’s ok since we got a break). And like the last yoga workshop I took, we used some props! A couple blocks and a small squishy ball. We started the class revisiting the C curve (see arm balance clinic) on the mat with the ball as well as the upper back/arm placement ‘in the air’ (since we were in a seated position). Stacey (the instructor) also spoke with us about the importance of form, showed us improper forms, and helped us ‘feel’ the way its supposed to feel when we are on our hands/knees. And she told us we would have a 10 min break half way through to get water etc…
For example, on thing we worked on extensively was our shoulder positioning. Our shoulders have a tendency to ‘creep up’, so we practiced the alignment by pretending to use an invisible a pec/delt machine; your arms are at 90 degrees, your triceps are parallel to the ground, and your wrists are in vertical alignment with your elbows (we tend to have the wrists forward compared to elbows). To fully achieve the right feeling, she has us ‘pull’ our shoulder blades down, so that our traps weren’t up by our ears. Then we squeezed our fore arms toward eachother, while keeping this alignment in order to feel the correct body alignment when we are about to go into a chaturanga. Let me tell you that even practicing this with NO weights, you can feel your muscles working! Then we applied this exercise by doing some kneeling chaturanga pushups, going down only as far as we could pull ourselves back up.
Before we worked on the transition from chaturanga to up-dog, we focused on some upright poses to give our arms/wrists a break. We worked on aligning the hips and knees in warrior I, warrior II both on the mat (free space) and up against the mirrors to check to see if our hips are aligned or not. For warrior I and later the chair pose, we practiced knee alignment with a foam block against the mirrors. To make sure our knees were not over our toes, we put the block between the mirror/our knees and to make sure they stayed at 90 degrees. The hardest part was doing this for one legged chair pose, keeping one knee against the block, while the other foot is raised and you are ‘sitting back’ toward an invisible chair. Another tendency we have is to bend the knee too far over the feet when doing this pose (causing issues), so this exercise forced us to ‘sit back’ like we should.
After our brief break (scarfed a bar down, got hungry!), we went back to the chaturanga pushups and then worked on the transition. Really it is a small undulation from bottom to top; once you go forward and down into the ‘hover’ with arms tight to your body (its more forward than just straight down) with a small curve in your upper back/butt tucked, you flip over onto the tops of your feet), keeping butt tucked, pushing hips forward, then slowly push up to straighten your arms (making sure your elbow creases face forward), keeping lower belly tight, and looking up toward the ceiling very last. The lower back should be flat and your midback should be flexing. No ‘sexy back curve’ since you will aggravate your lower back by doing so. See progression of photos to the left with Stacey demonstrating the transition from chaturanga to up dog. She makes it look so easy and effortless!
Toward the end of class we worked on Triangle and revolved Triangle poses again on the mat and against the mirror. Stacey again showed us the wrong way that some people tend to do in class and the way to correct yourself if you are finding yourself in that category. Love the pict of her hand flopping over to show the wrong way 🙂
When I was doing this pose against the mirror, and hand my arm bent over my lower back to practice the body alignment, I was so engaged that my lower right shoulder that was in the air, got cramped when I got out of the pose! I told Stacey and she said that happens to her when shes really engaged in the pose and that it would go away. Kind of stuck around for the remainder of class, but the following morning, I didn’t have that pinching/cramp sensation anymore, I was just sore in my entire upper back! At least I was sore in the areas that she told us to work on, so yay for good teaching on her part and good listening on mine! Later that Saturday though, I was SO wiped out! All that concentration and muscle movement took it out of me, but I loved every minute!
So what’s next? I’ve already signed up for another clinic, so I’m excited for early March to roll around since I will be attending a Hip Opening clinic! I think its an hour or an hour and a half, so maybe I won’t be so pooped after!
Would you ever be interested in a yoga clinic?
If so, what would you like to focus on if you had the choice?