Tag: Yoga Alignment

Pigeon Pose: Blissology Style. 12 Minutes that will Radically Up-Level your Game.

This is a short video from the Blissology Align Your Yoga, Align Your Life module.

Of course, it makes even more sense when you have seen the other 50 videos in the program and partaken in our Zoom calls in the course.

However, I want to share it since so many people in the course commented on how they didn’t have any clicks or pinches in their knees or hips doing the pose this way.

That’s one of my driving passions: to help people understand how the forces can be directed through the body so that we get the maximum stretch but our joints remain stable.

You will hear the key Blissology Yoga mantras: “Toes Before Pose,” “Stabilize Ankles and Knees, then Mobilize Hips.”

What you will need to let go of for this approach is striving to get the chest and hips on the floor. All too often this means we collapse in the pose instead of staying expanded and keeping our joints safe. We also “Go-Around” the stretch this way.

I hope this helps you with your yoga and to lead a life of health and positivity.


Total Joy: 100-hour Training & Epic Online Modules

Joy Joy Joy!

I’ve been in my Joy in an extra-large way lately.

Two things that light me immensely are learning and sharing ideas as well as connecting with a community of people who want to lift each other up and create an upward spiral together.

This has been happening in a huge way in the last two online immersions we ran in May and I am thrilled to launch three trainings that can be taken individually or you can do all three for the 100-hour Blissology Yoga certification:

  1. June 10: Align Your Yoga, Align Your Life
  2. July 10: Commit to Bliss
  3. September 10: Blissology Yoga Teaching Methodology

If you want to help your body heal, help others to heal and share the message of your deepest heart, these modules are for you.
I am thrilled to share this bliss with you!

Intention of the Blissology Yoga Alignment System

1. To create a feeling of “grounded spaciousness” in the pose. When it comes to the purpose of alignment, most people go straight to physical benefits.  In Blissology Yoga first and foremost we want to align our bodies to create a certain feeling.  Rather than using alignment to confirm to some kind aesthetically perfect pose that looks nice but may not feel good, we want to create a feeling from the inside out.  Our Mantra is Yoga is more about the feeling than the shape.”

In Blissology Yoga, the shape of the pose needs to serve the feeling of peace, lightness and ease. We are looking for a calm and relaxed, body. The shape of the pose needs to be a servant of the calmness of mind, body and breath. As soon as the shape of the pose is prioritzed over the feeling, the risk of injury increases dramatically and we violate the essential principles of kindness and sustanability.

This does not mean that we let the body do whatever it wants as we sit peacefully by. Instead we endeavor to create poses that feels light yet stable, grounded yet spacious.

2) To Balance the Yin and Yang forces in the body.

I am using the terms Yin and Yang in relation to gravity.  The “Yin Force” is the down and out into the gravitational field.   The “Yang Force” is in and up in relation to gravity.

You can think of Yin like a puddle or a river going down passively with gravity.  Yang, by contrast moves in and up away from gravity like a fountain.  Yin provides softness, relaxation and the ability to move stuck emotions and energy out of the body.  Yang provides stability, support and muscular engagement.  The yang energy used wisely distributes tension throughout the body for support and the yin energy allows the body to relax on that support in a way that does not hurt the joints.

We need a balance of both forces.When we get it right, it feels like we are being suspended from the ceiling by puppet strings,  rather than compressed and collapsed at one of the spectrum or overly rigid on the other.

Our goal is to find the most efficient “in and up” lift away from gravity in the most relaxed way possible. Wei Wu Wei, means “effortless doing.” We want to be masters of gravity in yoga and in all life’s activities.

3) We want to be precise with our poses.  This means we want to steer the body towards shapes that allow our bodies to grow more strong on more flexible according to the intention of the pose.  

This in is contrast to  just allowing the body to move into the path of least resistance so the changes are more random or ineffectual.

We strive to isolate stretch and/or strengthen in specific areas. By isolating these places using proper alignment so that muscles that are too tight and strong can find flexibility and length. At the same time, people who are too loose can find more muscular engagement, strength and integration.

4) Sustainable and well-functioning joints. We want to keep the joints protected by dispersing loads rather than concentrating them in ways that wear the joints out. We need to integrate the body parts together to function synergistically.

Misaligned joints are prone to injury in the bones, tendons, ligaments or other connective tissues because of concentrated forces on the joints. We want to disperse the load over many joints.  We don’t want any muscles to overwork but instead find efficient ways to share the load over a wider kinetic chain

5) We want to create better energy flow. We believe that if every yogi did the pose to create more prana in the body and remained sensitive to what interfered with this energy flow, the risk of injury is almost nil.  Also, the goal of flexibility becomes a secondary bi-product to the over-arching goal of better energy flow.

6) We want to create neuromuscular patterns for all activities in gravity. This means that the work we do in the poses to create grounded spaciousness and the distribution of yin and yang forces will carry over to all of life’s activities, not just the yoga poses.

The connection between mind and muscles (neuromuscular connection) will become like a path through a jungle after hundreds of people have walked on it.  We will develop integrated the alignment principles into our bodies that everything we do off the mat will be guided by the principles we work on on the mat.

What we are not trying do:  It is worth defining in our intentions what we don’t want to guide of study of alignment.  

1) We do not want to be guided only by the “aesthetic perfection” as the end goal.

This means that very often we need let go of the idea of lining bones up with other bones or walls in order to make an aesthetically pleasing pose of one that has “perfect” geometry.

How is looks can never be more important than how the poses feel (as per point 1 of our intentions). Being guided too much by what we feel the pose should look like will create a mental struggle, a lack of ease and will put joints at risk because we want to jam square pegs into round holes.

2) We do not want to be concerned about prioritizing end points that compromise the lines of tension (DUO Lines). If we are motivated by the end points we “go around” the fundamental alignment patterns and comprise all of the intentions we have set out in 1-6 above.

Eg: In revolved triangle, the end point to many is having the bottom hand on the outside of the front foot but most often, this will compromise our joints.  We call these “Go-Arounds.”

This will mean that often we need to approach a Blissology Yoga practice with a beginner’s mind.

“Energy without awareness of alignment can be dangerous
Alignment without awareness of Energy can be boring.”

What is advanced Yoga?

In my past two decades of teaching yoga, I’ve seen a lot of evolution in the yoga world. I’ve loved watching new poses come into the mix, some borrowed from creative minds and some from other disciplines such as circus school. I never thought I would be interested in a one arm hand stand for example. I thought, “this is just flashy,” but then I realized the challenge kept me fresh and gave me something to progress towards. I am no longer a naysayer and practice this and other “new school” yoga moves almost every day.

That said, having just taught one month of intensive Blissology Yoga Teacher Training course focusing on the ins an outs of yoga alignment, I am recommitted to making people realize my stance on yoga progression. I strongly believe that advanced yoga needs to be viewed not just as flashy, challenging poses, preferably done on the edges of cliffs or waterfalls; nay, advanced yoga lies also in being able to do so called “basic” poses with precision, breath and presence. This needs to remain the foundation of yoga.

One afternoon during the YTT, I wanted to run our Yoga Foundations course so the students could see how to explain so called “simple poses” like upward dog or chaturanga to beginners.  It become clear that this work was not just for beginners. Even people who had been practicing yoga for decades loved going back to basics and learning how to do them well.   It was a joy to spend whole afternoons looking at what muscles need to turn on to make these poses feel light yet stable to explore what the feet, pelvis and hands do in the pose with a fine brush instead of in broad brush strokes.  There is a whole world of detail that isn’t boring but outright exciting in this work.  There needs to be a resurgence of this type of study in modern yoga.

Over the years, as thousands of more yoga teachers pour into the incredibly competitive global yoga market, there is more and more emphasis to find something fresh and exciting in the practice. This means that teachers will step up their sequencing game, make killer playlists, and throw lots of challenging poses into the mix.

To really do yoga with precision, you need to make people aware of what they are doing by plugging into their bodily feedback loops and slowing the tempo down. In way too many yoga classes I’ve observed, the tempo seems to be speeding up as this is what creates sweat which is an easy sell in our body conscious culture.

Imagine trying to play jazz before mastering the scales. This is an analogy for what I see in the modern yoga culture.

I believe that we need to spend more time ingraining a solid alignment foundation in yogis; and as experienced yoga teachers it is our responsibility to the next generation (of yogis) that we do so.

I always remind our graduating teachers that every yoga instructor is trying to strike a balance between detail and flow—and it’s a tricky balance. If you concentrate on the details of the poses, often the classes loses flow and become a clinic or workshop.

Yet, there is a third option. When we slow the pace down just a little and create an experience of harmony between mind, body and breath, concentrating on precise yoga can lead to the state of mind we all love called “flow.”

This means we need to let people know why they are doing the poses, what the benefits are, how they should feel in the pose and let their internal experience guide the poses.

It’s the opposite to being guided from the “outside in” and feeling like every pose needs to fit a perfect photo. This is where we progress to in our month long YTT.

There is a lot of room still for inspiring playlists, creative sequencing, philosophical themes and even options for advanced poses for those who want to go there in the class. Let’s walk before we run though. Alignment is and should be the foundation for all yoga, beginner or advanced. After all, cultivating a strong practice of alignment will help our bodies to continue to practice our yoga as we age, with more freedom and no injuries.