There is nothing like a calming yoga practice to complement a Sunday of self-care.
But as we get more and more used to training alone at home, there is more room to get into the habit of having poor form, which in the long run could leave you with an injury.
ClassPass found in its research that online yoga has grown in popularity by 25% and other data suggests that 90% of yoga teachers plan to keep some of their practice digital still.
The possibility of developing a bad technique without a teacher to spot it and fix it is always there.
There are five common yoga poses in particular that Fizz Yasin of Yoga Alliance Professionals, a professional body for yoga teachers, notes that people often need to be corrected.
Downward facing dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Fizz explains, “A common mistake you will often find is that the distance between your hands and feet is too narrow or too wide.
“Too narrow or wide and you’ll add pressure and tension not only to your spine, but to other joints in your body as well.
“A downward facing dog can be such an enjoyable pose and can even be a relaxing pose, with benefits to helping stretch not only your spine but your whole body as well.”
She recommends solving this problem by starting with laying the plank (which you can read more about below).
Start by spreading your fingers wide apart and pushing the palms of your hands into the mat, lifting your tailbone into the air.
The purpose of this pose is to lengthen the spine, so make some space as you create the upside down V shape with your body.
“A slight bend in the knees can help make this pose more comfortable and letting the gaze fall on your feet can release the tension in your neck,” she adds.
It is also important to be aware of your shoulders, which may press against your ears as tension and stress can build up here in the body.
“To avoid this, firmly pull the floor away from you and gently lift your shoulders from your ears, pushing your weight back into the hips,” says Fizz.
You will probably remember your PE days in school where you were told not to put your butt in the air while planking.
Fizz says this “basic transition” pose is best corrected by going back to the basics.
“Start by building your strength in a half-plank pose – with your knees on the floor.
“Then as you build up your strength you can start pushing up to a full plank position, creating a nice long line from the top of your head to the heels of your feet.
“Make sure you tuck your lower stomach in while engaging your core muscles. “
She says to remember “the locking controls of your bandhas,” which are points in the body that yogis will “lock” to affect the flow of energy in the body.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
The bridge pose is one of the most common backbends in yoga, and if not performed correctly it can cause strain on the back of the neck.
Fizz advises: “A common mistake that you will find is that your chin is crushed against your chest.
“The best way to solve this problem is to widen the shoulder blades by lifting them up.
“Then I often give the signal to roll your shoulder blades underneath – to create more space in your upper back.
“It can also be helpful to put your hands together, to help you anchor yourself and keep the space between your chest and back open. “
Dog head up
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
“This is one of the most nourishing poses for our spine and we often forget to practice properly,” says Fizz.
The common mistake people make is to throw their heads back.
Fizz says, “There is a common misconception that because they are called an ‘upward facing’ dog, we literally have to throw our heads back.
“By doing that, you create a lot of tension in the neck.
“The best way to solve this problem is to practice and understand your range of motion starting from the neck. “
Sit in a sitting position and bring your hands together behind your neck – almost like creating a neck brace between the base of your skull and the top of your shoulders.
Gently tilt your head up and down to find a comfortable range of motion for your neck.
“Remember that feeling when you place your head in your dog’s up-facing position,” says Fizz.
“This is one of the first warrior poses you will learn in your practice, but a common mistake you will find is that the front knee drops or protrudes too far from the front toes.
“This not only causes an imbalance in your posture, but it could also cause injury to the knee joint,” says Fizz.
This usually happens when you’re not using your thighs, abs, or glutes.
Instead, keep an eye on your front leg, using your muscles in this pose and keeping the knee directly above the ankle.
Fizz says, “You want to make sure the front knee is pointing between the big toe and the second toe. “
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