YogAlign

What is yogalign?

YogAlign is a unique flow style yogic practice that develops beneficial patterns and blue prints for core natural alignment, effortless  breathing and a deep kinesthetic awareness of the body, mind and spirit. It is a transformational tool for loving and nurturing the self that develops deep core strength and graceful effortless posture.

 

YogAlign practitioners feel like they have been to a strength, flexibility and alignment session, done Pilates, had a massage and chiropractic adjustment, and undergone therapy with deep breathing while meditating all at the same time.

 

YogAlign works on many levels so that everyone in the class is able to progress, transform and find an edge no matter their level of yoga. Excess flexibility and over stretching is not a part of YogAlign, as it can increase the risk of injury by destabilizing a joint. A basic understanding of kinesiology is taught throughout class through asanas.

 

Many people are weekend athletes who unfortunately have to spend a great deal of time sitting in chairs or driving in cars with the spine collapsed and the head carried too far forward. Serious athletes also have posture problems from repetitive movements causing imbalances that set the stage for serious joint and muscle injuries. Most people have compensated for these activities by developing dysfunctional patterns in body alignment, muscle balance and breathing. Great movement isn't about how large your range of motion is, it's what you do with the ROM you have.

 

Ease, comfort, strength and presence are the building blocks of YogAlign. The techniques guide people to first eliminate unnecessary tension in the body, relax the mind and develop the ability to reside fully in the present. YogAlign practitioners are taught to move from the core of the body from the psoas, diaphragm connection. Arms are kept deep in the socket while lifting from the core, increasing the range of motion while stabilizing the muscles and ligaments of the joints. Self-massage techniques are woven into classes to stimulate energy meridians and give the body the signal that it is not under attack and can release deeply held tension.

 

8 Key Elements of YogAlign

 

  1. Core breathing : A key element to breathing is balancing the muscles of respiration by balancing the forces of inhalation, exhalation, expansion and compression.
  2. Psoas Activation, waking up the core of your core : The psoas group connects your upper to your lower body and your inner emotional body to your physical body. The psoas is involved with moving, breathing, organ support, emotions, and spine alignment. Activating you psoas with the rest of your core abdominal muscles in synergy is the key to a pain free body and dynamic fluid core center.
  3. Natural Spine Alignment : When practiced at the same time that you breathe, YogAlign poses help bring you into beneficial alignment patterns from the inside out. Beneficial spine alignment will then become intrinsic in your body once you recode your Neuromuscular patterning.
  4. Concentric/Eccentric PNF Neuromuscular Balancing Exercises: Exercises that recode your postural patterns using tension and release exercises combined with perception and natural spine alignment positions.
  5. Freeing your fascia and experiential anatomy : Our fascia is a web like tissue which surrounds and guides our muscle pathways, determines the quality of our movements, and our immune and hormonal systems.
  6. Self Massage and Sensory Body Awareness : Self-massage is the self-love tool for brining blood flow, relaxation, and sensory awareness in your soft tissue and your organs.
  7. Eating natural foods, sunlight, sleep and exercising : Taking care of the physical body in a balanced way is the key to alignment principles.
  8. Being in the Now : By being present with the body and focusing on the breath, once comes to a state of yoga or union within the body, mind and spirit.

 

When we become more natural in our alignment and our feelings, our inner radiance can shine out and we can live in the eternal present where life happens.

 Ease, comfort,

strength and
presence are the
building blocks
of YogAlign.

The techniques

guide people to

first eliminate unnecessary tension

 in the body and

relax the mind...

Taking care of
the physical body
in a balanced way
is the key to
alignment principles.

What is fascia and how does it affect posture?

Fascia Research Congress defines fascia as all collagenous fibrous connective tissues that can be seen as elements of a body-wide tensional force transmission network. Most fascia tissue is composed of collagen except for a few elastin fibers and together they link every part of your body together as one cohesive structure.

 

On the left is an example of muscle/fascia forces in balance. This is the superficial front or flexor line with the opposing line of pull; the superficial back or extensor line. In the Western world, very few people actually have naturally aligned posture and healthy muscle/fascia patterning that looks like this.

Brittan with creator of YogAlign, Michaelle Edwards,
during teacher training in Princeville, Hawaii.

Where and what is your psoas muscles?

Brittan with creator of YogAlign, Michaelle Edwards, during teacher training in Princeville, Hawaii.

The Iliopsoas muscle group is located in the low back and is made up of the Psoas Minor, the Psoas Major, and the Iliacus.  The psoas is one of the most important muscles in yoga poses, but it is also one of the most misunderstood.

As one of the key core muscles, it is essential for healthy posture, and a strong and balanced psoas helps stabilize the spine and prevent back issues. In harmony with diaphragmatic breathing, the psoas functions like a hydraulic pump, enhancing circulation throughout the body. Hence why we use the "SIP" breathe technique in YogAlign. If the psoas is weak or out of balance, it affects the integrity of our core, and it can be a significant contributor to low back and pelvic pain. Serving as a bridge, the psoas connects the physical to the emotional and the spiritual to the ordinary. It's quite normal when working with the muscle to not only bring a wealth of unresolved fear to the forefront of the client's consciousness, but provide a portal into a instructive wisdom as well.

Psoas muscles connect your spine to your legs. The inner ribs connect to the perimeter of the diaphragm muscle from the toes looking up with psoas connection shown cut away. YogAlign shows you how to activate the psoas diaphragm connection for radiant health and dynamic movement patterning. Back pain is one of the most prevalent ailments of our society. No surprise here, because the vast majority of people are out of alignment due to poor posture.

 

One of the major contributors to back pain is the Iliopsoas group.  This group is the major hip flexor, and a major postural stabilizer of the body (it acts somewhat as a moderator between the abdominals and their antagonist the spinal erectors). Its location and actions, however, can be a little hard to get a handle on. The psoas major and minor travel from the front of the lumbar vertebrae, diagonally down through the abdomen—beneath the intestines–to attach on the front of the femur (thighbone) just to the inside of the hip joint.

The iliacus lines the inside of the ilium, or pelvic bone, then feeds into the common tendon with the major and minor psoas. If your feet are fixed to the ground, the iliopsoas pulls the spine forward toward the legs; when the feet are free, the iliopsoas flexes and externally rotates the hip. It is a tricky set of muscles to reach and treat manually, and treatment requires a practitioner with good hands…and some compassion.

 

Because the muscles are deep to the intestines, the practitioner has to get under the organs in order to apply pressure to the muscle tissue. And because this muscle group is a primary “flight or fight” muscle, it is affected by stress, and can hold a lot of emotionally charged tension. Once MRI and X-Ray have ruled out structural damage, growths, or disease process, however, the Iliopsoas is one of the first places to look for some of these causes of back pain, despite the potential for discomfort.

POSSIBLE ILIOPSOAS SYMPTOMS:

 

Common symptoms arising from Iliopsoas dysfunction are:

  • Low back aches and pain, that may gradually spread throughout the back and hips.
  • Pain upon rising from a seated position, or standing upright too quickly
  • Pain during the second half of a sit-up
  • Discomfort or pain while driving with extended or flexed legs
  • Pain upon twisting the spine, or leaning to one side
  • Aches and pain with extended periods of time sitting or standing
    (especially with poor posture)


Some Possible accompanying symptoms:

  • Hip Pain
  • Pelvic Discomfort
  • Bowel disruption

 

HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

Being over-tired, stressed and spent, interferes with proper healing, and contributes to the over-all stress of the muscles, so keeping balance in your life and diminishing stress is a great first step to a healthy iliopsoas. That being said, there are several mechanical reasons for iliopsoas dysfunction. Prolonged sitting, especially when combined with a forward head posture such as we often find in our computer-centric society–shortens the iliopsoas muscles. Even sleeping or driving, if the posture places the iliopsoas in a shortened state for too long, can compromise its resting length.

 

Excessive standing, with the back “collapsed,” knees hyper-extended and the hips pushed forward, encourages a shortened iliopsoas, and stresses a multitude of joints, instead of engaging the core and spinal stabilizers.

 

Even significant repetition of hip flexion can cause shortness and/or hyper tonicity (tightness) of the iliopsoas group. This can come in the form of frequent or distance cycling, stair climbing, or even certain weightlifting, or other exercise moves. Also, if the abdomen and iliopsoas are not coordinated, and the gait cycle is off, the resulting imbalances can cause further biomechanical compensations.

 

WHY DOES THIS CAUSE PAIN?

A shortened iliopsoas group pulls the spine into hyperlordosis and an anteriorly tilted pelvis (an over-arched low back). This posture can put stress on all the spinal muscles, including the erector spinae–the muscles which hold the spine upright, and all the vertebral joints of the lower spine (causing pain). Low back pain can also develop as a tight iliopsoas generates tension in its tendinous attachment to the lumbar spine. While this tension occurs in the muscle, the pain is felt along the low back. This tension can also affect nerve roots of the spine, resulting in nerve pain, which is felt in the low back, or radiating away from the area.

 

 

A short or tight iliopsoas can pull and twist the vertebrae, causing excess compression of the discs and other vertebral joints. These forces cause pain as they occur, but also lead to degeneration of the structures over time, which can result in structural damage, like disc herniation, and degenerative disease processes, a whole new cause of pain.

 

Iliopsoas dysfunction comes with many distracting companions, which contribute to the overall set of back pain symptoms: a dysfunctional psoas can put the burden of hip flexion on the other, weaker hip flexors, which can become overused, irritated and painful. Or a tightened, short psoas can inhibit gluteal function, further disrupting the balance of optimal muscle function, and putting undue pressure on inappropriate muscle groups.

 

Iliopsoas dysfunction comes with many distracting companions, which contribute to the overall set of back pain symptoms: a dysfunctional psoas can put the burden of hip flexion on the other, weaker hip flexors, which can become overused, irritated and painful. Or a tightened, short psoas can inhibit gluteal function, further disrupting the balance of optimal muscle function, and putting undue pressure on inappropriate muscle groups.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO?

Self-Treat: psoas, low back, quadratus lumborum, spinal erectors

(see musclemedicinebook.com)

 

Stretch: iliopsoas, hamstrings, low back, hip flexors

(see musclemedicinebook.com)

 

Strengthen: abs, glutes, spinal erectors/stabilizers, psoas if it’s weak. Then do functional full body exercises that emphasize posture and balance. Part of this might be retraining the body’s movement patterns to coordinate imbalanced muscles, like the synergists iliopsoas and abdominals, or antagonists iliopsoas and gluteals, during walking. (see musclemedicinebook.com) “Abs” alone is not enough!! Commit to strengthening your core and floor (the muscles of the entire core and muscles of the pelvic floor)!Muscle memory, neuromuscular facilitation, postural reflexes, all can be trained to bring peace back to the iliopsoas. Look into Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, physical therapy, or a functional movement based exercise program.Instead of a chair, you may want to try to sit on a physioball! It forces you to engage you core and joint stabilizing muscles, it allows for movement, so the body is not so static, and it allows the hips to relax in a more neutral position as the legs slope off the side of the ball, rather than being held rigidly in flexion by a chair seat.

 

A healthy iliopsoas is important for all the movements that you do in daily life. So, it is vital you take the time to strengthen and lengthen these muscles to get the most out of your workouts and to prevent injuries.

2017 © YogAlign San Diego