Follow along as yoga instructor and January Ellie ambassador Melis helps to perfect and correct your yoga flow with four beginner poses!
UPWARD FACING DOG
Melis is wearing the Fit & Fierce Outfit.
1. Legs are resting on the ground and feet are splaying out! Your legs need to be lifted off the ground and tops of the feet should be pressing into the ground. Additionally your legs and feet should be facing downward - knees and feet should never be turned out!
2. Hands and wrists are way too far forward. Wrists should always be directly underneath your shoulders and fingertips should be facing forward. Having a hard time lining it up? Make sure your hands are next to your chest before you press up. This relieves so much back pain and cramping when you place your hands in the correct spot!
3. Severely compressing the back of the neck by just dropping the head back and dumping into the lower back. Think LENGTH - never compression in this pose. Your head should be a continuation of your spine and you should be lifting up out of the crown of your head before ever considering tilting your head back. Also, make sure you press through your chest instead of sinking into your lower back! Think about pulling the mat forward from your chest and making a long spine. This pose is not intended to come from arching your back but from lifting through your chest and head.
1. Front knee is too far forward. Your knee should never go past 90 degrees because you can cause injury to the cartilage in between the bones of your knee joint. This can cause your knee to swell and tear over time. Keep your front knee directly above your front heel to avoid hurting your knees and building the proper foundation to this pose. A helpful tip is to keep the weight in your front heel (not your toes).
2. Dumping weight into the hips and the front leg causing back to arch and rib cage to protrude. Easily fix this by bringing your frontal hip points towards your chest as your tailbone goes down towards the floor. Lift out of the front leg and extend up through all four corners of your torso. You want a neutral straight spine. This allows you to get all of the benefits of the exercise and build strength in the proper way!
3. Weight is in the front foot and leg causing back leg to collapse. Weight should be evenly distributed in both legs and feet. This creates length and balance. Make sure you're energetically pressing through the arch of the back foot and inner heel and that you're lifting your back hamstring up towards the ceiling to create a strong foundation in your back leg.
1. Alignment is off. In plank pose you always need your hands directly underneath your shoulders and shoulder width apart. Since this is the foundation of your pose, you need to always fix this first. Sometimes all you need to do is shift your weight more forward.
2. Back is arched and hips are sinking. When you are in high plank pose you need to create a straight line from your heels to your head. This means you should have a neutral spine and an engaged core. Some quick fixes for this are: drawing your hip bones towards your rib cage, engage your lower abs to avoid arching, and press your thighs towards the ceiling as you let your booty draw down towards the floor. Imagine everything is zipped up nice and tight from your heels to chest.
3. Neck is straining, shoulders are up by ears and upper back is hunched (so painful). First things first: Relax your head, neck and spine. Take your gaze about 6 inches in front of your hands to create length in your neck. Take tension out of your shoulders and upper back by spreading your collarbones, relaxing your shoulders away from your ears, and lifting your chest away from your abs.
1. Incorrect foot placement on knee. This can cause knee injury and permanent damage. In Tree pose your lifted foot should either be placed below your knee on your calf or above your knee on your inner thigh (as shown in the after photo below), but the knee is off limits. Think "No Knee Tree."
2. Hips are uneven and they aren't squared forward. When we practice Tree pose so many things are going on with our body. Fixing your core and hips is a great place to focus to help with your balance. Make sure you're standing with a neutral spine and hips pinning in towards each other (think of squeezing your hips into the center of your body). Don't sink into the standing leg for support with your foot: Lift UP and engage your core. A great tip is to place your hands on your hips to feel if they are even.
3. To help stabilize, the face, shoulders and chest have tensed...this is so uncomfortable and can cause so much discomfort. In Tree pose, your upper body should be effortless. Keep your neck muscles soft and elongate the sides of your neck. Relax your face and jaw and let your shoulders fall back and lift your chest up. Your whole upper body should feel light like a tree!
For more great yoga corrections, check out Melis's Instagram page, @MelisFit_!