Yoga Workshop on Inversions with Angela Kukahn Saturday March 9th from 2-5pm

Yoga Workshop on Inversions with Angela Kukhahn 
Angela Kukhahn in Handstand. Photo by Jasper Johal
In Advance: $45
Day Of: $55
This is an All Levels Class!
Playing Upside Down: From Fear to Fun!
In this workshop we will explore inversions with a sense of adventure, curiosity and most of all fun! Inversions are for everyone and are extremely beneficial in strengthening the body and focusing the mind. We will work on the strength and flexibility needed for inversions, develop core awareness and discover proper alignement for floating and flying. We will explore headstand, forearm balance, and handstand. In addition we will explore how different variations and the use of props make inversions approachable to just about anyone! Come expecting to sweat, laugh, play and fly!

How to Make Your Yoga Inversions Better: External Rotation of the Shoulder Joint

Website for this image http://www.yogajournal.com
Website for this image http://www.yogalifejourney.com
Inversion Principle for the Shoulders: External Rotation of the Arms.
One of the cornerstone principles of alignment in any inversion is external rotation of the arms. We practice this every time we turn our palms to face out and sweep our arms overhead so it should be easy right?
Sadly, no!
Most of us have developed some very bad habits! What makes full external rotation with arms up so challenging is that typically when we take our hands up overhead several tragic things occur.
Yes, I use the word tragic…
Common Misalignments When Taking the Arms Overhead in External Rotation
1. Our shoulders draw up by our ears
2. Our ribs poke out
3. Our butts stick out to compensate for our now contorted alignement
4. I get my yoga teacher panties all in a bunch
For most of us, these bad habits are born way back in the beginning of our yoga practice when the teacher first asks us to take our arms overhead and we try to take our arm bones past our ears.
Perhaps we secretly believe that if we are to score any yoga “street cred” we must display feats of unusual and exemplary flexibility.
Maybe it’s because we long to be teachers pet and in the dark corners of our young impressionable yoga minds we believe that yoga teachers tend to favour the students that look like they could spend a couple of hours on “The Rack” without so much as a peep of discomfort.
Or perhaps we are showing off for the cute boy we met at Starbucks who just happens to have parked his Manduka mat behind ours (What? He has the same mat as you?..it’s a SIGN! Now all you have to do is impress him with your flexibility and bam! The two of you will ride off together into the proverbial yoga sunset…or better yet float off on his Manduka Mat like Walt Diseny’s Alladin.)
Yes, I’ve given it some thought you see, but probably not enough…
In All Inversions: Draw your arm bones in to your shoulder sockets and externally rotate them. 

Above you can see the most basic example of external rotation of the arms in the first photo the model has the hands alongside her body her thumbs pointing away from her body. (in internal rotation the thumbs would point in see below) In the second photo the model has kept the external rotation of the arms and taken her arms up overhead. Several amazing things are happening here.

Proper Alignment When Taking the Arms Overhead in External Rotation

  1. You can see that her shoulder blades are firmly on her upper back and not riding up by her ears.
  2. Her shoulder blades are spreading apart from one another. This action helps to engage Serratus Anterior. (Serratus Anterior is the MVP when it comes to inversions!)
  3. The armpits are hollowed out and her arms are stick straight. Her triceps are firm and wrapping forward towards her front body and her biceps and inner shoulders are moving  towards her back body.
  4. Her tailbone is drawn down towards her heels and is neither squeezing nor sticking out too far.

Work your External Rotation in Plank, Downward Dog and Cat/Cow Poses. 

  • You can work external rotation of your arms in many poses but in particular Cat/Cow, Plank and Down Dog. When your shoulders are in true external rotation it feels as if you are hollowing out your armpits. Imagine you had to hold a tennis ball under each armpit and you will get the feeling I’m talking about.

Need Still Further Convincing that Externally Rotating Your Arms is Important?

  • When external rotation is not present when taking the arms overhead it can cause impingement syndrome. (Head of arm bone crashing into the acromion process.) Ouch!
  • Feel It: Notice how different it feels to take the arms overhead with the arm bones rolled in (internal rotation palms facing back shoulders rolled forward) vs. rotated out (external rotation palms facing forward shoulders rolled back).

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Yoga Inversions Pre-Flight Warmup

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

The Pre-Inversion Warmup

Before practicing inversions it is essential you warmup and stretch the muscles you will be using.
Your best bet if you are practicing at home is to warm up with a few Surya A’sSurya B’s and then do a few of my favorite pre-flight stretches and strength building postures listed below.
Happy flying yogis!

Dolphin Pose Variation – The Dynamic Duo External Rotation and Strong Forearms!

Learn how to externally rotate your arms and strengthen your forearms in this amazing dolphin pose variation by Jill Miller.

Two essentials for yoga inversions are external rotation of the arm bones forearm strength.

External rotation is the thing that allows you to take the training wheels off and start flying. It connects your shoulder girdle to your core via your Serratus anterior muscle.

The Serratus is a badass muscle that lives underneath you underarm  and wraps your front body to your back body. Hiding from plain view like a ninja shrouded by darkness this muscle doesn’t get noticed.

Until now…(cue dramatic music…)

To my delight this variation on dolphin pose addresses both of those issues!

On top of all that it also feels delicious in its ability to solidify the shoulders onto the upper back. It feels sturdy. Always a good thing when you plan to balance upon them.

I owe this genius photo and pose to Jill Miller of Yoga Tune Up. I found this in a wonderful article of hers on wrist health. To read the original article click HERE.

Dolphin Pose with Palms Facing Up

a) Rest forearms on a yoga mat, and place a yoga block in between the wrists along the pinky side of hands.

b) Pike the hips upwards, forming an upside down “V” shape with the body (bend the knees if the hamstrings are very tight).

c) Attempt to press the thumb side of the hand into the floor, and feel the traction and stretch deeply within the muscles of the forearms as the spine extends away from the rooted forearms.

(Item D is my addition to Jill’s amazing instruction)

d) Prepare for world domination now that you have the mighty Serratus holding your shoulders on your upper back like superman’s cape!

Yoga Inversions: Step 1 – Do The Work!

From Fear To Fun

How does one go about conquering their fear of inversions?

Just do it.

That is to say in yoga, as in life itself, there are no shortcuts.

You have to do the work.

I heard a teacher tell that to a student last week when asked how to get better at a pose and it made the whole room laugh. Mostly because he acknowleged thst on some level we are all looking for a shortcut. A way to conquer our fears that is less difficult, less confronting, and of course quicker.

While there are certainly guidelines and principles that will guide you in being more efficient with your efforts, nothing can take the place of simply stepping onto your mat and doing the work.

Unrolling your mat is half of the battle.

There is a very true saying that goes “Where your attention goes prana flows”. In order to wake up “sleepy”  places inside our bodies we have to visit them. We must go about  reawakening them over and  over again.

It is scary. It kinda feels like walking out to the edge of a cliff and hanging ten of the side preparing for a high dive.

In order for it to feel second nature you have to go to that place where it is no longer comfortable or safe.

This is where the breath comes in. The breath keeps us in our bodies. It keeps us in the moment. It keeps us steady, easy and consistent.

Without the wisdom and guidance of the breath we also may become overly ambitious thrashing about unwittingly without proper limitations. The breath keeps us grounded, sensitive and aware.

photo credit: Marysia Weiss of The Hot and Healthy Blog. Photo by Jasper Johal

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Badass Yoga Video: Briohny Smyth Inspires Us To Get On The Yoga Mat

Badass Yoga Video: Briohny Smyth Inspires Us To Get On The Yoga Mat

Wanna see something badass? Watch the video above of my friend yoga teacher Briohny Smyth doing an incredible yoga video for Equinox Fitness.

This video is inspiring because it’s like watching two old people holding hands as the walk down the street, it shows love and commitment. I think maybe what inspires me the most however is that it shows a continual curiosity.

Yoga is endless.

Just when you think you’ve mastered one aspect of it, trust me you’ve only just begun.

I often liken my yoga practice to a relationship. If you ever find yourself in a long relationship regardless of how amazing you or the other person is you will probably feel bored at one point or another. It makes me want to cringe just saying it, because part of me does not want to accept that to be true.

However, the good news is, you don’t have to be. See, boredom is the assumption that there is nothing left to know, there is nothing new. This is never true. You can never know anyone completely, because they are always evolving with every breath. You just have to be curious. Dig deeper. The same goes for yoga, you will never know everything about yoga. In fact, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. So cliché’ yet so true. Hopefully this video makes you peel back the curtain and be curious. Roll out your yoga mat and gaze at it like a newfound lover. Get curious.

Yoga Video: Kick From Down Dog To Handstand With Angela Kukhahn

How To Kick From Down Dog To Handstand Yoga Video With Angela Kukhahn

Ever wonder how people kick from handstand from downward dog? Magic? Nope! Just a few simple steps to get your float on! Watch this short yoga video on inversions and you will be flying into handstand from downward dog in no time!

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Yoga Workshop on Inversions with Angela Kukahn Saturday Febuary 11th from 12:30-3:30pm

Yoga Workshop on Inversions with Angela Kukhahn Saturday February 11th from 12:30-3:30pm
Angela Kukhahn in Handstand. Photo by Jasper Johal
In Advance: $45
Day Of: $55
This is an All Levels Class!
Playing Upside Down: From Fear to Fun!
In this workshop we will explore inversions with a sense of adventure, curiosity and most of all fun! Inversions are for everyone and are extremely beneficial in strengthening the body and focusing the mind. We will work on the strength and flexibility needed for inversions, develop core awareness and discover proper alignement for floating and flying. We will explore headstand, forearm balance, and handstand. In addition we will explore how different variations and the use of props make inversions approachable to just about anyone! Come expecting to sweat, laugh, play and fly!