Day 3 of “The Art of Teaching One on One” with UK-based Yoga Teacher Kate Ellis

Further discussion on the biomechanics of the human body and on the blending of physical therapy with yogasana exercises in the nascent Yoga Therapy field, and on how to be free (mukta) from pain (dukkha).

Stretching the Obliques and Quadratus Lumborum: While lateral bending works the obliques, stretching the quadratus lumborum involves a slight twist in the lateral bend as you work to flex the contracted side.

Where the fascia (connective tissue) becomes thick and stuck (a.k.a. adhesion), the muscle becomes weak, and imprisoned in fascia. Injuries commonly occur due to stretching of stiff, immobilized muscles, which pull on ligaments.

Working the fascia bindings around the serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles: Benefits recovery from tight neck and shoulder muscles, locked in a shortened, weakened state by fascia bindings.

Continual, endless massage of those tight muscles and/or continual addiction to pain medications will not help align your body. Only regular, remedial practice based on physiotherapy principles will strengthen the weak, shortened muscles that contribute to the imbalances in the body, which produce pain from trapped and overworked muscle.

Note: Handstand is a good test for stable shoulders. Hand pressing exercises are good for building hand, wrist and forearm muscles for balancing in handstand.

Left or right dominance can lead to greater muscle development on one side of the body.

The body language will tell you when and where it needs something. The challenge is to be sensitive to the language of the body, and to provide what the body needs. In the Yoga tradition, this is not dissimilar to following the way of Sat Guru (True Teacher).

Forward bending over crossed legs

Adjustment/assisting technique: proprioceptive touch on the lumbar marma trigger point

Adjustment/assisting technique: Applying hand to the occiput to adjust cervical spine

Knee tracking exercises to correct varus and valgus knees. (Pictured: Air bench – similar to squats with your back against a swiss ball on the wall, but with more focus on tracking the knees.) The movement must be super-slow to free up the fascia bindings in the legs to support the gluteus maximus.

More knee tracking exercises. The movement must be super-slow to free up the fascia bindings in the legs to support the gluteus maximus. This particular remedial therapy requires the assistance of a trained physiotherapist to guide the unstable knee and muscles into place using proprioception technique.

Back extension

Fish Pose. The movement must be super-slow.

Stabilizing forearms: The active engagement of the muscles to keep the forearms in internal rotation while externally opening the shoulders locks the head of the humeral great tubercle into the socket of the shoulder joint, allowing the structure of the bones to support and balance the muscles. Where you feel the slow burn is where the muscles work to release the fascia bindings. It feels like an intense workout even though it looks like you are doing nothing.

Passive psoas release: This exercise involves resting a bent knee on a chair and the other leg, extended on three blocks. Stay for a few minutes, then lower the extended leg by removing a block after each interval.

Effortless rest: Lock the arms and allow the curve of the lower back to drop as you relax the whole back. Using blocks to raise the height of the knees gently hikes up the coccyx/pubis bone.

Piriformis remedial exercises: Benefits sacroiliac joint (by aligning muscle imbalances, weaknesses between each leg). Work the side that has the weak muscle. Pain (dukkha) is caused by the held tension in other muscle(s) that compensate and overwork for the weak side. To recover fully from pain involves removing the pattern of the individual’s tendencies towards holding tension pain.

Piriformis 1


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