FRCms | Kinstretch
Certified Ashtanga Yoga Teacher
Ido Portal Online Student
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One of my projects this year has been applying the FRC/Kinstretch System to the asana practice. In this first video I’m doing PAILs and RAILs for hip external rotation in a common variation for any half Lotus postures. First I move actively by bring crossing the leg on top without using my hands. I then create a stretch on the outer hip by tilting my pelvis forward/lifting the tail bone to the sky and keeping the lumbar spine in extension by moving forward and not down.
The PAILs effort here is to attempt to internally rotate the top leg by pressing the ankle down into the other thigh. Starting at 20 percent effort and incrementally ramping up the tension to 90 percent - always maintaining a safe,
pain free effort. The RAILs effort is then to switch the action and to externally rotate the thigh attempting to lift the ankle away from the opposite thigh.
I get more bang for my buck by adding in wrist extension PAILs and RAILs while bringing the hands into prayer 🙏🏼. Then I do a passive range hold by slowly straightening the standing leg until I find the point where I can actively hold the top leg without letting it drop down.
For good measure I added in a Hawaiian 🌺 Squat to challenge my balance, knees and ankles.
PAILs and RAILs For jump backs involves pulling the legs and torso tightly together. The PAILs here would be attempting to escape the position by kicking the legs into the hands - starting at 20 percent and then ramping it up until you’re kicking as hard as you can - but the hands are winning. The RAILs effort is to do the opposite- try to pull your feet off your hands and pull the legs and torso closer together using your hip flexors and abs.
Then it’s time for a passive range hold which means slowly releasing the hands but fighting as hard as you can not to lose any of the compression- in other words keep the thighs and torso touching.
Then we break down the various parts of the jump back - first move actively into a cross legged compression and lift to a cross leg V-Sit. Then cross leg L-sit. Finally put all this together with an explosive movement lifting up to a momentary V-Sit and use this lift and momentum to swing
Happy birthday to my love. Here’s a snapshot of some of our special moments over the last 10 + years. May all your dreams come true and may this year be our best year so far... ❤️
Something that really helped me stay focused and inspired over the last few months was practicing each morning before class with @deepikamehtayoga and our assistants @twindharma aka @chiagemels and @martimegghi 🙏🏼. Practice was always fun, but we worked hard and intensely - in the most positive way; supporting each other and keep our spirits uplifted. We often digressed and explored different progressions while keeping it sincere and serious but playful at all times.Balancing teaching with practice is a challenging one and I’ve experimented over the years with practice before and after and while I wouldn’t say it’s a golden rule, I definitely feel more connected to the practice and the students if I practice before teaching.
Chanting is an integral part of the month long intensives @deepikamehtayoga and I teach - it’s not all handstands, backbends and dance workshops 🙃. I have always associated my practice with the ‘Sacred Chants of India’, as they help to set the ‘bhav’, the mood of devotion, and accelerate the process of stepping through the doorway into meditative stages of awareness.
I understand that in some countries, in some situations, that chanting can be seen as secular and going against the belief systems of different faiths and ideologies -or some people might just find it weird and creepy.
However I’ll never forget one time when I was teaching in New Zealand and a Maori surfer student in the class expressed the essence of it this way: “Hey brou, that chent at the beginning - it really gets ya in the mood eh!” 🙏🏼 #yoga
Ekāgratā is a Sanskrit term meaning "one-pointed" or "single-minded." It is a one-pointed focus and pursuit of one object, undisturbed concentration and absolute attention. In yoga, it is achieved through consistent practice/abhyasa of meditative techniques. Through Ekāgratā we aim to eliminate all distractions from our consciousness and this helps to keep the mind calm and grounded - as important today (perhaps even more so) as it was thousands of years ago . 🎯
I’m feeling very inspired in my sadhana at the moment after the weeks spent with @yogicstudies revisiting the reasons and intentions for this practice. If you swipe across you’ll see a yogi who appears to be balancing on one hand in a handstand, while the other is holding a stick, and his legs appear to be in a diamond/butterfly. This is from the 1500’s and one would assume that this was representing something that had been happening for some time before that. Who were these yogis and why were they doing such advanced physical practices? Did they also face the same criticism that modern day asana practitioners face?
I think it’s fair to say that they would have: as humans have been arguing over who has the right way and the right path in all fields of life for a very long time.
In my own way I feel the intensity of tapas in my early morning practices and the exploration of asana based movement practice combined with breath, self-study, devotion, meditation, chanting, ritual etc etc. This is more than meets the eye 👁. It’s a lifelong journey with some enjoyable moments of delighting in physical freedom and expression along the way.
The goal of Yoga is not the handstand - but does that mean that handstands were not a part of the ancient practice of ascetics/yogis to reach the goal? As we discovered during our recent course with @yogicstudies it seems that they (handstands) along with many other extremely complex, challenging and advanced postures, might well have been a part of that quest. At least that is what paintings such as this one here from the British Museum c 1820 depicting Śaiva ascetics practicing yoga and tapas (austerities) would indicate. Seth @yogicstudies also showed us many carvings from the temples of Hampi c 1510-34 CE which would rival any Instagram #yoga feed of today. Although the context of the lives of those ascetics - who would have typically been male, celibate, renunciants and the austerity of their practices, would have been very different from the householder versions of practice common today, this research does provide an encouraging counter argument to those who criticise modern transnational yoga as being ‘mere’ gymnastics and contortion. It also provides an interesting perspective to those who have run with the argument that the advanced asanas we see today are just circus and gymnastics tricks that were introduced by Krishnamacharya during his time at the Mysore Palace.
I’m not saying that doing handstands is Yoga, but they could well be a legitimate part of an authentic sadhana when practiced with and within what we consider to be a Yogic context.
Stay tuned for some exciting ventures that @yogicstudies @deepikamehtayoga and I have planned for early next year!
The further I go into my handbalancing practice the more I notice the difference between how handstands were taught (and still are judging from what I see on social media) back when I was learning to do handstands in the asana practice.
The main difference is the scapula position. My handbalancing teachers do it with full elevation (Video 4 - I can still push harder!) of the shoulder blades whereas the way I was taught back in the day was, “shoulders away from the ears”,in other words - shoulder blades depressed and protracted (Second part of video 1 and video 2)
When it comes to something like a pike press - as I’m demonstrating in the first video (first part)- it is infinitely harder to do it with the shoulder blades depressed and protracted (as I do in the second part of the first video). I’ll admit it does feel un-natural to elevate all the way to the ears,but the more I practice it the more I realise why it’s taught this way. The other reason it is taught this way, contrary to what was taught in asana class, “plug your shoulders into their sockets”, (video 2) is that it’s much better for joint mechanics/shoulder health to elevate as much as possible.
For other common transitions like jumping into Bakasana (video 3) or jump throughs, then both approaches work equally well - depending on whether or not you want to go to a handstand during the transitions. If yes, then again it’s going to be much more efficient to elevate the shoulder blades while jumping forward and try to get back to that position on the way out. In Bakasana itself, the shoulder blades will be depressed and protracted which is why setting them up in downward dog might help in landing the jump.
I’m not bagging the asana approach, since there is no ‘right way’ to do a handstand. As handbalancing grows in popularity it’s techniques are spreading into the way handstands are taught in asana class anyway, so probably in another generation this will be old news.
This one is inspired by my friend @starlingfaraon who I shared this sequence with during our surf trip in Sumba last week. Anyone who surfs more than two hours a day knows how taxing it is on the body - so much energy is expended being exposed to the elements 🏄♂️ ☀️ 💨 🌊 💪🏼 that little is left in the tank for any other physical activity - which is where this sequence comes in handy for maintenance purposes. I was explaining to Star the importance of using the 80/20 principle - what is the 20% of input that can yield 80% of the output? In order to keep the body at optimum for surfing last week this was the question. This was one of the sequences I used. I also find that this sequence covers around 80% of the yoga asanas that I practice - meaning that if I can maintain these then I don’t need to practice 4/5ths of those other poses daily/weekly or even monthly - which frees up a huge amount of time to pursue other activities.
Disclaimer: This is not a starting point... but some of you will find this approach useful. Modify as needed. Use your hands for the ‘no hands’ movements if you need to. Breathe with movement 🙏🏼
One from the other day back in Sydney... so this is a part of my movement practice that I don’t share too often - partly because it’s not that relevant to my ‘Yoga’ profile/work posts, and also because, as John Cage points out, you, “Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time - they are different processes”, and by posting you put yourself out there for analysis which can be counter productive to the creative process.
A little about this video: I’ve been working on integrating a series of isolated movements into an improvisation - those movements are: forward roll, backward roll, grandma roll, rotational push-up, quadruped, S-Dobrado, Martelo de Çhao, and Pulo de Gato (the combination of those last two are the beginning of this video and the Pulo - flying through the air and trying to land as softly as a cat, is up there with the Back Tuck as one of the scariest movements I’ve tried to learn so far). Improvisation of movement seems like it should be easy but for me it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever learnt. That voice in the head that doubts and criticises and feels embarrassed and is afraid of not being good enough is real. Which is why I do it anyway- to learn more about the nature of the mind and my belief systems. Coming out the other side and developing a certain level of movement ‘freedom’ is a bonus.
Big thanks to @portal.ido for providing the framework to explore this work and to @andresvesga for helping me through this stage. 🙏🏼
The ‘Handstand Jam’ is definitely one of my favourite classes to facilitate. After weeks of putting in the hard work it was time to let go and have some fun. After an hour or so of a structured format the class flowed into an open session of self expression - with many of the gang experimenting with acrobatics for the first time and some rediscovering their childhood gymnastic skills. No pressure, no ego, just pure joy and play. 🤸♀️ 🐒 #notyoga #play