Trying to practice what I preach

This weekend, I got in my two sessions of yoga at Thrive Yoga, with Dana Cohen, who has been subbing a lot recently. I also took a class from her last Thursday so I’ve been getting a steady diet of her brand of intense, burning vinyasa. Actually, my class today was hatha yoga and there was not a sequence of asanas in sight. Instead, we held poses for what seemed like an eternity and then came back to revisit the poses or variations repeatedly during the session.

I am trying to follow through on my intention of “not working too hard at my yoga.” I am consciously pulling back from poses that test my limits, taking a modification. Even still, today, I was in Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana) and found myself tensing up my shoulders, unnecessarily. I know that I instinctively tighten my shoulders in many situations, from typing at the computer to driving, to pranayama. For the time being, I am taking my shoulders out of the shape in some poses, like Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) whenever I feel them tightening up.

Where I am concentrating my efforts are in my hips, especially my psoas. I am not really engaging them in many poses, and compensate by overusing other muscle groups. For now, I try to make sure that I am pulling my pubic bone up towards my stomach, the oft-repeated pelvic tilt formula that requires you to “pull down on your tailbone and up on your pubic bone.” Because I could never seem to access the specific muscles to accomplish this rotation, it was all very abstract. Now, in practically every pose, I try to identify the expression of the pose and establish it in the hips first. What has really surprised me is that correcting my hip tilt also eventually results in a correction of my shoulders and thoracic spine.