Not every participant has the flexibility or proprioception to perform every yoga pose. By instructing hingeing at the hip, everyone can participate fully in class.
YogaFit creates multi-level classes that cater to everybody and every body. When we set up various poses and flows, we use what we refer to as SPA or Seven Principles of Alignment. With these safety principles in mind, we teach the safest and most comfortable options for each pose, for everyone in the room. Examples of this include teaching Mountain Pose with feet hip-width apart. Many people are comfortable perfoming this with feet together, but everyone is comfortable doing so with a wider stance and more stability. We will see this same pattern in the roll up/roll down from standing to Forward Fold. Though some have the proprioception to keep their bodies safe throughout this action, many do not.
Hingeing at the hip is the safest method to reduce strain in our lower backs and encourage core strengthening, while also teaching functional movement skills. When we teach our clients to fold at the hips and bend at the knees, we are showing them how to safely move through a neutral spine, reducing strain in their backs and promoting core and leg strength. To come back up, we instruct bending at the knees and lifting from the chest in order to keep a neutral spine: in this way we are teaching our clients how to lift properly using their legs and core strength for support over their back.
One of my favourite objections to yoga is ‘I can’t touch my toes!’ Well guess what – everyone can touch their toes if they bend their knees enough! It is the hip hinge that allows this. Flex at the hip joint, soften the knees and allow the belly to move towards the thighs, at the same time lifting through the pelvic floor muscles and engaging the transverse abdominus, ensuring internal core support. Practicing our Forward Fold in this way encourages a more central hamstring stretch while enabling the muscles of the mid/lower back to relax. This stretch can be enhanced by gen
tly drawing up and engaging through the quadriceps.
Easy cues for participants to remember include: ‘Folding at our hips, like closing a door or closing a book.’ You can also ask participants to take their first two fingers to the crease of their hips and feel their bodies fold over their fingers as they move into Forward Fold. By teaching hingeing at the hip, you can set your clients up for success by promoting safe movement patterns.
Want to become a YogaFit instructor?
The YogaFit Fundamentals (parts 1 & 2) 15-CEC course, powered by Australian Fitness Network, is taking place across the country this Winter. Upcoming dates: 5 to 7 & 12 to 14 June, Perth; 19 to 21 & 26 to 28 June, Brisbane; 10 to 12 July & 31 July to 2 August, Melbourne; and 17 to 19 & 24 to 26 July, Sydney. For the next level, YogaFit Level 3: 9 to 10 June, Perth; and 15 to 16 July, Sydney; and YogaFit Kids: 24 June, Brisbane. fitnessnetwork.com.au/yogafit
Lisa Greenbaum is the VP of Operations of YogaFit Training Systems, as well as an E-RYT 500, Senior Master Trainer and international presenter.