Yoga 101: Tips to make the most of your Yoga practice

By Terri Sullivan DPT, OCS

 

I’ve practiced yoga for over 15 years. Initially when I was practicing, the emphasis was on stretching. With more intensive study, however, I learned more details about the poses and integrated it into my practice as well as how I teach others to enhance their practice.  For example, a key question to ask is “Are you using your legs?”  You should be.  Strength and feeling certain muscles groups during poses is extremely important.  The more grounded, stable, aligned, and strong a person is in their pose, the less chance of injury.   Below, I’ve profiled a few common yoga poses, proper alignment of the legs, and which leg muscles should be targeted during practice.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

  • Keep weight balanced in the 4 corners of each foot
  • Toe mound down
  • Move from the ankle to help pull up arch vs tensing arch
  • Firm muscles of the legs (glut med, quads) without locking the knees
  • Create energetic lift from inner foot to the pelvis

 

Warrior 2 (Virabradasana 2)

  • Back foot turned in slightly, but still connecting with all four corners of the foot, hip in slight internal rotation
  • Front knee moved out towards pinky toe to help feel the deep hip lateral rotators
  • Press into front heel to help pull up through the inner thigh
  • Top of the pelvis level with the floor

 

Serpent Pose (Bhujangasana)

  • Anchor the pubic bone, ASIS, or whole pelvis to the floor, making sure the core is engaged and there is no back pain
  • Move the sacrum away from the lumbar spine
  • Lightly tighten the gluts, but not clenched
  • Feet straight, not turned in or out
  • Lightly squeezing the inner thighs towards each other to help recruit the pelvic floor

 

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

  • Unlock the knees by turning the legs on (to help prevent hyperextension) pulling up with inner thighs and quads
  • Externally rotate front femur bone while keeping the front big toe mound down
  • Tilt pelvis over front leg without curving the spine

 

 

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

  • Feet hip with apart and parallel, heels directly under knees
  • Roll outer thighs in
  • Elongate tailbone with a tail tuck
  • Pressing into heels to feel the gluts and hamstrings

 

Terri Sullivan DPT, OCS, Certified Yoga Instructor

 

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