Every month, we choose a posture from the 26/2 yoga series and a related move from our Hot Pilates classes and highlight those with extra instruction during class. This gives students a chance to develop a deeper understanding of alignment and body mechanics, and ultimately get a better results from all the hard work they put in.
In April, we’re paying special attention to our knees.
The posture of the month is Fixed Firm.
The move of the month is the Frog Squat.
Fixed Firm Pose:
Some people can drop right into this deep quadriceps and hip flexor stretch during their first class, but for most others, it takes a while for ankles, knees and hips to open enough. If you are in the latter category, know that “working your edge,” wherever that edge may be, provides you with many benefits. Over time, this posture will change, but you have to be patient.
- Your knees are the boss of this posture. Never force your knees.
- Never force your knees.
- Never force your knees.
- Seriously. Be patient with your knees. You should feel “therapeutic discomfort” (a noticeable feeling of pressure in the knees), but never, ever pain. Because the weight of your body can push the knees to bend beyond where they are ready to safely go, it’s a good idea to keep some weight forward in your hands, which are placed by your knees or even further out in front of you. Bend your knees just enough to provoke change, but don’t push them too far. It can be helpful to move back and forth, bringing the weight into the hands, and then slowly bending the knees to the point of therapeutic discomfort for a breath or two and then moving the weight back forward into the hands.
- If your ankles are very tight, you’ll need to give them time to open up too. Again, ease into a point where you feel pressure, stay there for a breath or two, and then ease off. Repeat until the posture is over.
- If your hips touch your heels fairly comfortably, open your feet JUST wide enough to work your hips down just between your heels to touch the ground. Make sure your toes point straight back.
- If this creates too much discomfort in your knees, open your knees nice and wide.
- Put your hands on your feet, and lean back onto your elbows, one at a time.
- If you feel ready to move on, with no pain in your knees and your hips still on the floor, drop your head back. Try to get the crown of your head onto the floor, then the back of your head, and finally your shoulders. Try to relax your upper body onto the floor.
- Bring your arms up and grab your opposite elbows with your hands.
- Try walking your inner thighs closer together, creating a deeper stretch in your quadriceps. A very small movement here can feel like a big deal, so move in small increments. Leave your knees and hips on the floor.
- Use your elbows to come out of the posture carefully, and then quickly lie down in Savasana. This Savasana is just as important as the posture itself, as you have just released the “tourniquet effect” in your knees and ankles, and now oxygenated blood can rush in and work its magic.
- Improves and increases circulation to the lower limbs.
- Improves flexibility of lower spine, hips, knees, and ankle joints.
- Good for lower back pain, sciatica, gout, rheumatism, and varicose veins.
- Stretches the front side of the body, especially quadriceps and hip flexors.
- Lowers heart rate.
Ah, frog squats, a classic Hot Pilates move!
- Feet beneath your shoulders, toes pointing out slightly.
- As you sit down, really stick your butt out behind you and keep your weight in your heels.
- Make sure knees are tracking out over your feet. Keeping your knees in alignment is very important.
- Maintain neutral spine with your chest lifted.
- Push up through your heels to come back up.
- Improves mobility of knees and hips.
- Improves range of motion in knees and hips.
- Strengthens lower back, glutes, hamstrings (which help to lift the glutes, preventing droopy butt!), calves.
- Trims and tones legs and glutes.
It’s gonna be a great month! See you in the hot room!
-Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford.