The quadricep, hamstrings, and hip flexors get a lot of attention in yoga. Yet, there is another muscle that is commonly used in yoga, but one that you may have never heard of. That muscle is the serratus anterior.
The serratus anterior is a deep muscle that supports and abducts the scapula. ‘Serratus’ is a Latin word that means, ‘saw-like’ and refers to the appearance of this muscle. The serratus anterior might not be mentioned very often in your yoga class, but you use it every single time you move into High Plank.
The serratus anterior in terms of an asana-based yoga practice
The serratus anterior slow our descent from High Plank into Chaturanga. When these muscles are weak, we come crashing down.
The serratus anterior originates at the side of the first through eight ribs. It runs laterally around the rib cage, passes underneath the scapula to insert on its medial border. The serratus anterior acts to abduct the scapula, or pull them away from each other. So when your yoga teacher tells you to, ‘push the floor away from you’ or to ‘lift up out of your shoulders’, it is the serratus anterior abducting the scapula which allows you to perform those actions. The action of the serratus anterior is critical for several other positions. Continue reading “Serratus Anterior – Yoga Anatomy”→
The name comes from the Sanskrit words chatur meaning “four”, anga meaning “limb”, danda meaning “staff” (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body), and asana meaning “posture” or “seat”. Here are pictures showing utthitha (extended) chatturanga dandasana and chatturanga dandasana:
As you can see, four limbs really are supporting the staff of the spine! In one of the pictures, you can see that we have body-painted a teacher so that we can demonstrate more about the anatomical structure of the pose. You can learn more too – see below for details.
How can the study of anatomy deepen your Yoga and Hot Yoga practice? Well for one thing it can provide scientific guidelines to help you keep your body safe. For example, did you know that the discs that stack between and cushion your vertebrae get rehydrated whilst you sleep, so your spine is literally longer after a nights sleep. Pretty cool fact but how can this apply to a Yoga and Hot Yoga practice. Well, because your spine is longer in the morning this means all the ligaments and tendons that hold the spine together are tighter in the morning than in the evening. And tight ligaments feel stiff and are easier to pull. So, if you are practicing in the morning you should expect the body to feel stiffer in backbends than later in the day, and perhaps you might warm the back up more or go lighter in backbending postures then you would in an evening practice.
Wait, Breathe and Trust That All is Coming; why Yogafurie’s approach is to allow the mind and body to find space and time.
Patience is a virtue and that means patience is not easy.
Often we ask you to practice patience right at the start of a yoga class; whether that’s sitting mindfully, doing a breathing exercise or lying down in savasana. How often have you been thinking to yourself in that moment, ‘Gosh, can’t we just get started?’
Of course patient practice has already begun, not just for you, but for everyone else on the mat as well.
To meditate on something is to let it fill your mind. All your attention is on that one thing. If there is a thought, it’ll be about that one thing. As proficiency grows, there’ll be fewer and fewer individual thoughts during meditation. It becomes an unbroken flow of attention towards the chosen object of meditation.
There’s a few implications from this definition. First, attention and thought are treated as different experiences. You can pay attention to something without necessarily thinking about it. Example: driving. During the journey, you pay attention to the road but rarely think about the movements and decisions. Most thought is on the rest of the day, or other things important in life at the time. Here’s another example: say you’re on a course, or in a meeting, and it’s a bit boring. You know you need to pay attention, but your mind keeps wandering onto thoughts of what to do later, or other more interesting stuff. Clearly, attention and thinking really are different.
We’ve spent the last few weeks exploring the acupuncture meridians through Hot Yin Yoga here at Yogafurie. We’ve looked at a different pair of meridians each time, and then at the extraordinary vessels. This blog gives detail about the meridians, and a simple yin yoga sequence you can practice to target them all.
Come along to one of our Hot Yin Tonic classes to learn about the safe application of each posture – or of course speak to a qualified Yin Yoga teacher. That way you can get the best out of this practice without risk of injury.
The following exercises have proved helpful to me personally in building up an inversions practice. I’ve documented them here for you people who are attending the Yogafurie Inversions Course. Attendees will be coached in the safe execution of all of these: please don’t actually try these unless you’ve had the safety coaching face-to-face with a qualified Yogafurie instructor.
Or: what’s all this about standing on your head then?
Yogis do some odd things. From chanting OM to getting up at getting up at silly-o-clock to practice, we can be an odd bunch. No more so than when we start standing on our heads in yoga inversions – and it turns out that there are a surprising number of different ways to do that!
But there’s method in our madness. There are serious benefits to Yoga inversions where the head is held below the heart. And there’s also quite a bit of misinformation out there about what they are! Check out our list of benefits and myth-busters.
Yoga is often quite an individual practice. We are all in our own zone – rightly so, we need to introspect and stay with the breath. But every now and then, a Yoga teacher will say: “Let’s all find a partner for the next asana”. Scary stuff – especially if you’re new to the studio.
It’s perfectly understandable to use this as an opportunity for a loo break! The alternative is to do Yoga…with someone else’s body. That can feel a little strange – but it does open up a whole new world of practice and development. Read on to find out more.
Some benefits of partner Yoga
First – and probably foremost – it’s always lots of fun. After a few moments, the whole room will be chatting and laughing. The ice is broken almost immediately and your partner, who was a stranger a few moments ago, is now working with you like an old friend.
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