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Fishy Yoga Transitions

November 8, 2016

All bodies are different.  If this is news to you, I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.


Really though, they are.  And not even just the skinny/thick/tall/short kind of different.  Our bones are all different lengths and proportions to each other.  The range of motion to our skeletal structures varies so greatly that it’s pretty much impossible to say that a transition or the alignment of a pose is going to work great for two people (or all twenty or however many are in one yoga class).


Have you ever wondered “What’s wrong with me?” when offered a transition cue that you just can’t seem to master no matter how much you try?  We’ve all probably had those moments.  A lot of times its just because we’re still teaching our bodies proper movement and alignment and building up the strength and one day it will come.  Something will click, and it will click when it is good and ready for clicking.


But sometimes it’s not ever going to “just click” because your body might not be set up to click that way.


I honestly don’t know anyone who can step a foot through to a lunge from down dog without moving their palms from the floor.  Up onto fingertips instead of palms, sure, but keeping the palms flat is almost sure to leave you with a foot only halfway forward.  This leads to unnecessarily short warriors and lunges and, if you’re not careful, a lot of frustration.


It takes a lot of core strength to step that foot forward – deep deep transverse muscle engagement, down into the psoas actually.  If you’re new in your practice, or not super flexible in lunges, then you’re going to benefit a lot from just grabbing your ankle and scooching your foot up to where you really want it.  


And good grief, just take your back knee down if you need to!  Do whatever works.  It’s called a practice – it’s always a practice, never a perfect and it never needs to be that.


Also, creasing your forehead up in knots and thinking expletives in aggravation at yourself does nothing to help this step through.  Just sayin’.   Grab your damn ankle and smile about it.


But even if you have  the most ripped functional core muscles this side of the Ganges, and a long flexible lungs, the length of your bones might be preventing you from executing this step through.  If you (like me) have the same length (or longer) to your lower leg than you do for your arm, it’s just not gonna happen unless you create more space.  


Make your arm longer – come up onto fingertips.  Maybe you have such a long shin bone you need to move your hand all the way off the ground.  That’s cool man – do it. Own it.


(By the way, it’s the same arm as leg that you’ll probably be adjusting for the step-through.  Just to be clear.)


One day, you might find yourself taking a class with an instructor who says that you should try to challenge yourself and keep the whole palm on the floor.  So hey, try it.  Maybe you’ve built up more core strength and mobility and you could be closer to accomplishing that.  Maybe you don’t have to come as high on your fingertips as you thought… maybe the whole thing becomes an uncomfortable collision that gets your foot nowhere.  That’s cool.  Maybe that teacher has really long arms and short shins, and they aren’t aware of the difficulties that others have.


Real talk — I was amazed when I started teaching that child’s pose was a challenge for many people.  I had no idea.  


Our experiences dictate our perception, and we all gotta learn sometime.  It’s not to say a teacher’s not a good teacher if they haven’t adjusted their cueing for these sorts of things. They’ve probably got a lot of other good stuff to offer you.  Unless of course, they don’t.  In which case you find another teacher next time I hope.  I know I’m not the right teacher for a lot of people, and I’ve definitely taken a lot of classes with a teacher who wasn’t right for me. These things happen.  Trial and error is a part of what helps us find our tribe.


Anyways, I digress.


Try removing the giraffe from the refrigerator next time you try sticking an elephant in there. And if that makes no sense to you, you should watch this video.


Cheers, yo!

-*- Namaste -*-





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