If you’ve ever taken a Vinyasa flow class, you’ve probably gone through a flow. A Vinyasa is the movement we do from downward dog to plank, chatarangua, upward dog and back into downward dog. This motion requires a lot of shoulder and core strength which isn’t accessible for a lot of people. Whether you’re slowly working at building upper body strength or just want to work on the basics, here’s a side by side comparison of a traditional Vinyasa and a modified one.
Pose 1 – Low Plank
Keep your knees on the ground, tailbone lengthening down to keep the lower back long. Reach your heart forward keeping shoulders over wrists. Shrug shoulders down and away from the ears.
Pose 2 – Lower Push-Up
Pull your chest forward as you start to bend the elbows to lower yourself all the way down onto your belly. Lower slowly with control to build up strength. Keep the abdominals engaged and make sure your tailbone is pointing down to maintain integrity through the lower back. Hug elbows in towards your ribs and pull shoulders down and away from the ears.
Pose 3 – Cobra
Keep legs and hips down on the mat, palms are underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingertips and press into the mat to lift head and chest off of the ground. Tailbone is lengthening towards your heels, pull your heart forward between your collarbones. Focus on lengthening the spine rather than gaining height. Elbows stay close to the body and shoulders are relaxed. Keep the back of the neck long by gently tucking the chin.
Pose 4 – Puppy
Puppy is similar to downward dog except your knees are on the floor. After lowering from cobra, press back through to table top pose, keep hips over your knees hip width distance apart and reach your arms forward. Relax your neck, keep lower abdominals engaged to prevent curving in the lower back. Take deep breaths into the upper back.
Pose 1 – Plank
Squeeze legs together, press into your heels and keep your knees off of the mat. Tailbone is pointing towards your heels, lower belly hugs in and heart reaches forward. Shoulders are stacked over your palms, fingertips are spreading with more weight in your fingers and knuckles. Keep the back of the neck long.
Pose 2 – Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga)
From plank, lean forward onto the tip of your toes, letting your shoulders go past your wrist by a few inches. Keep the legs charged, abdominals engaged and start to bend the elbows at a 90 degree angle. Keep reaching your heart forward and tailbone towards your heels. Try to relax your shoulders away from the ears as you hug your elbows in. Try to get your biceps parallel towards the floor.
Pose 3 – Upward Dog
Without lowering onto your belly, flip your toes to place the tops of your feet onto the mat. Press into your palms as you lift your chest and take your backbend. Hips are off the mat, shoulders are relaxed and arms are straight (microbend the elbows).
Pose 4 – Downward Dog
From updog use your abdominals to lift your hips up and back, flipping your toes to place your feet flat on the mat hip width distance apart. Palms are still shoulder width distance apart, fingertips are spreading. Bend your knees if needed, curl tailbone up towards the sky and press your chest towards your thighs. Relax your neck and wrap your shoulders, imagining you could squeeze a beach ball between your upper arms.
And that’s it! Next time you take a Vinyasa I hope you keep these pointers in mind and modify if you need to! Building strength takes time and it is not worth an injury so go slow and appreciate where your body is right now instead of where you wish it would be.
Yoga with Kassandra – Disclaimer Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Kassandra from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Kassandra’s negligence.
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