The A-to-Z Information to Yoga Cues

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You expertise dozens, if not lots of, of yoga cues every time you are taking a category. Some are so immediately recognizable and comprehensible that you just observe them nearly with out pondering. However often a cue comes alongside that makes you pause and wish to ask a bewildered, “What?!”

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The next checklist addresses each varieties of yoga cues. You’ll discover insights from skilled academics on acquainted cues that you just would possibly wish to discover with higher consciousness. Different professional explanations demystify a few of the extra complicated and esoteric cues. And nonetheless others debunk well-intentioned however probably injurious cues that don’t belong in your yoga apply. And there are a few cues that we included merely in your amusement.

A: Adduct and abduct

You most likely hear these phrases on a regular basis, but it may be powerful to distinguish them from each other. Annie Carpenter, a senior yoga trainer and creator of SmartFLOW yoga, has a trick for remembering which is which. “Once I hear adduction, I consider ‘including in,’” she says. Adduction refers to actions in towards the midline of the physique—for instance, wrapping your legs and arms in Garudasana (Eagle Pose). In the meantime, abduction refers to actions away from the midline, comparable to taking your arms out to the facet in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) and positioning your knees away from each other in that very same pose.

(Picture: Andrew Clark)

B: Deliver your biceps in step with your ears

You’ll have heard this yoga cue in a number of poses, together with Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Dealing with Canine Pose). Whereas there’s nothing inherently flawed with the cue, it could actually result in misalignment if not correctly defined, says  Kathryn Budig, yoga trainer and writer of Goal True. That is very true in Down Canine, by which you’re supporting your physique weight together with your higher physique. “Taking your biceps to your ears could cause you to drop your head too low and collapse in your higher again,” she says. “As a substitute, I desire to say to my college students, ‘Maintain your ears in step with your arms.’”

C: Shut your eyes

If the one time you shut your eyes in your yoga apply is throughout seated meditation or Savasana (Corpse Pose), you’re lacking out. “Closing your eyes might help you to disconnect from visible stimulation and discover extra stillness,” says San Francisco-based yoga trainer Laura Burkhart. Senior yoga trainer Giselle Mari provides that closing your eyes in a stability pose, comparable to Vrksasana (Tree Pose), challenges you to make use of your interior senses to search out your middle.

D: Draw your shoulders down your again

Alexandria Crow, yoga trainer and founding father of Yoga Physics, is on a private mission to place an finish to this widespread cue. “When your arms go overhead, your shoulder joint itself goes up—that’s the pure motion,” says Crow. “Pulling your shoulders down whereas your arms are up just isn’t solely dysfunctional, it doesn’t repair the issue of individuals scrunching their shoulders as much as their ears, which is the explanation this cue took maintain within the first place,” she explains. While you hear this cue, discover for those who’re experiencing that scrunched posture in your neck and shoulders, however in any other case don’t fear about it.

See additionally Alignment Cues Decoded: “Draw Your Shoulder Blades Down”

Woman performing Four Limbed Staff Pose
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

E: Hug your elbows to your sides in Chaturanga Dandasana (4-Limbed Workers Pose)

This is without doubt one of the most significant yoga cues for Chaturanga, says yoga trainer and Yoga Journal contributing editor Jason Crandell. “It’s important to drag your elbows into your facet ribs whereas holding your forearms perpendicular to the ground,” he says. This creates higher stability within the joint the place your higher arm bone and shoulder blade join. In fact, it additionally requires upper-body power, so Crandell encourages his college students to drop their knees if vital to dump some weight whereas sustaining the integrity of the pose.

You’ll additionally hear this pose in Bakasana (Crow or Crane Pose), by which it equally gives stability and the specified engagement through the arm stability.

F: Flower your anus

Admit it: While you first heard this cue (or its cousin, “blossom your buttocks”) you laughed or cringed or maybe each. However what precisely does it imply? And why would anybody wish to do it? Whereas this cue’s origin is unclear, many academics recommend it might be a clumsy try at saying “widen the sit bones” or “loosen up the glutes.” However it doesn’t at all times have that impact on college students. “I’m like a 4-year-old after I hear this,” says Budig. “It makes me snort each time.” Which can, in truth, assist us loosen up these glutes!

G: Floor down

“Floor down” sounds easy sufficient. However Noah Mazé, founding father of Yogamazé, says grounding down includes greater than urgent your toes into the ground. “It’s essential to activate your pelvis, hips, and gluteus muscle tissues to create the right push-down motion that firmly grounds the toes,” Mazé says. To do that, attempt to unfold your weight evenly between the interior and outer edges of your toes in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), he says.

However it’s not all about activating. “Permitting your physique to settle into the bottom permits your skeleton to carry a few of your weight, so your muscle tissues don’t must work as laborious,” explains yoga trainer David Magone. As ordinary, it attracts on that stability of effort and ease.

Woman in Revolved Triangle Pose variation with a block
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

H: Sq. your hips

Regardless of many years of academics cautioning their college students to sq. their hips to the entrance of the room in twisting poses comparable to Revolved Facet Angle, Revolved Triangle, and Chair Twist, Magone says your hips don’t truly must be squared. In reality, the movement creates torque, he says, which weakens the area between the hips and the torso and ups your odds of harm. As a substitute of attempting to remain sq., permit your pelvis to rotate in the identical path as your backbone, which is able to permit for a a lot deeper spinal rotation and scale back the probability of lower-back ache.

See additionally How Yoga Lecturers’ Cues Unintentionally Give attention to the Destructive

I: Internal rotation

In yoga, generally you’ve “to attract in to maneuver up.” That is generally cued as “rotating your interior thighs” towards both the ground or the ceailing. Carpenter says Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) is an efficient instance: Practitioners usually push their interior thighs up as a result of it makes them really feel like they’re lifting greater. However this could trigger the glutes to grip, which in flip forces the sacrum to raise and places stress on the lumbar backbone. “For any backbend, you’ll have to have interaction your glutes to get off the ground, however then it’s useful to show your inner rotators on and let your glutes go. This lets you soften your groins and lengthen your iliopsoas and decrease again,” she says.

J: Jumpback

A jumpback is once you actually leap again from Standing Ahead Bend on the entrance of the mat into Chaturanga Dandasana. It’s widespread in Ashtanga yoga in addition to some vinyasa approaches to yoga. What does it take to grasp the jumpback? Practising Lolasana (Pendant Pose), says Crow, which trains key muscle tissues for the motion: Kneel on the mat with every hand on a block positioned exterior of every shin. Press your palms firmly into the blocks and straighten your elbows. Spherical your again, pull your navel towards your backbone, and produce your thighs towards your chest.

Ok: Kick up into handstand

It could be tempting, however don’t kick up into any inversion.“While you kick into an inversion like Handstand, you’re utilizing momentum somewhat than management, whereas try to be specializing in transferring with precision,” says Crow. What’s extra, kicking reinforces the notion that the ultimate posture is extra essential than the steps it takes to get there.

To construct persistence and precision when practising Handstand, Crow recommends beginning together with your palms a couple of toes from the wall and strolling your legs up the wall so your torso and legs make an L form. While you’re feeling sturdy and regular, transfer away from the wall and place your palms on the ground. Elevate and prolong one leg, then use your standing leg to evenly bounce (not kick) up. It will permit for extra management and muscle engagement, enabling you to work up the power to do Handstand in the midst of the room.

It’s particularly essential that you just not kick up for those who’re in a crowded class as you possibly can hurt others for those who topple over.

(Picture: Andrew Clark)

L: Lengthen the edges of your physique

This cue creates spinal elongation—each when you apply and once you’re off the mat, says Crandell. To elongate the edges of your physique in poses the place this may be difficult—comparable to in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Prolonged Facet Angle Pose), and Vasisthasana (Facet Plank Pose)—think about you’re stretching from the ideas of your toes to the crown of your head, which is able to lengthen your torso on either side, says Crandell.

M: Microbend your knee

This cue might be considerably controversial. How micro is the bend, in any case? Amy Ippoliti, co-founder of 90 Monkeys, an internet useful resource middle for yoga academics, suggests pondering of it this manner: “You are attempting to ever-so-slightly soften and bend your knee, and on the identical time, placing some effort into straightening your leg,” she says. This cue is particularly related for individuals who tend to hyperextend (over-straighten) their knees, which might trigger pointless put on and tear over time. “Creating these two opposing actions in your knee brings balanced power to all of the intricate muscle tissues of your decrease leg,” Ippoliti says.

N: Impartial backbone

Sustaining a “impartial backbone”—or “the pure curves of the backbone,” as many academics describe it—is a cue that’s universally embraced. “It is necessary as a result of it optimally distributes pressure among the many intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers,” says Mazé. When your backbone is out of its pure alignment, extreme pressure can turn out to be concentrated in a single space, which might result in accidents comparable to bulging or ruptured discs.”

Nevertheless, remember that in some poses (like ahead and backward bends) you need the backbone to return out of impartial as a way to flex and prolong. “In a balanced yoga apply, you’re transferring your backbone in each path,” says Mazé.

O: Open your coronary heart

As numerous ballads have advised us, the guts is a fancy factor. Crow agrees, explaining that the cue “open your coronary heart” carries a number of meanings in a yoga class. On a bodily stage, it could actually check with broadening by way of your chest or lifting your sternum upward. Nevertheless, it could actually additionally suggest that college students’ hearts are emotionally closed off—an implication that may be hurtful. The consensus? This cue doesn’t resonate with everybody. Use it or observe it provided that it feels proper to you.

P: Fake you’re between two panes of glass

Most academics have stopped utilizing this phrase when cueing Utthita Trikonasana (Prolonged Triangle Pose) in recent times. However for those who nonetheless hear it, ignore it, says Ippoliti. “It prompts college students to externally rotate each legs, which suggests the femur (thigh bone) heads won’t be absolutely seated within the hip joints,” she says. “This will restrict vary of movement and flatten the lumbar curve.”

As a substitute, once you come into the pose, modify your thighs and butt so your femurs sit into your hip joints, then draw the buttock of your entrance leg beneath to externally rotate your entrance leg as you flip your chest away from that leg. In keeping with Ippoliti, “that is the most secure technique to get the opening most practitioners search on this pose.”

Woman in Head-to-Knee Pose
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

Q: Activate your quadratus lumborum

Gary Kraftsow, founder and director of the American Viniyoga Institute, says the quadratus lumborum (QL)—which connects the backbone to the pelvis—doesn’t get the eye it deserves. When your again muscle tissues are weak, the QL picks up the slack, which might trigger it to contract excessively and turn out to be fatigued.

That doesn’t imply most college students perceive tips on how to activate the QL on demand. To interact and strengthen this muscle, Kraftsow recommends practising a variation of Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose): Together with your left leg prolonged straight and your proper leg folded in, twist your shoulders to the correct and decrease your left shoulder to your left knee, then take your proper arm up and over towards your left foot. Maintain for five–10 deep breaths, then swap sides. Hey, QL.

R: Launch

Within the quest for excellent yoga poses, we regularly sharpen our concentrate on performing the pose, somewhat than releasing or dropping into it. Nevertheless, Tias Little, founding father of Prajna Yoga in Santa Fe, New Mexico, says reminding college students to launch helps them deeply loosen up the physique. “As a result of individuals have a tendency to hold stress within the jaw, mouth, and different areas of the face, I like to make use of cues round releasing cranial buildings, like ‘Drop into Savasana of the tongue,’” says Little.

S: Delicate physique

The phrase “refined physique” is usually used to explain the thought of weaving collectively yoga knowledge and physiological operate. It helps individuals open to a state of inquiry and discovery, shifting focus from an outward efficiency of a pose to an inward exploration, says Little. “It’s all about observing sensation within the physique: the motion of the fascia and pulsation of blood transferring by way of the veins,” he says. “That form of attunement in every pose is what makes yoga a transferring meditation.”

It might additionally check with the much less bodily and extra energetic points of your being and the way you’re holding yoursef in every second. Think about it an invite to note your stability of effort and ease—bodily and in any other case—in every pose.

T: Tuck your tailbone

Most academics now not use this cue as a result of a majority of scholars are likely to overtuck, says Budig. “Tucking your tailbone can create extra size in your backbone—however once you take this motion too far, you flatten the pure curve in your low again,” she says. As a substitute, she tells her college students to “launch the tailbone as you concurrently draw your decrease stomach up”—twin actions that stop practitioners from overdoing it on the tuck.

A woman with dark hair and shiny, dark orange tights and top, bends into Pyramid Pose. She places her handds on cork blocks in front of her.
(Picture: Andrew Clark. Clothes: Calia )

U: Use your props

If Mari had her approach, each pupil can be issued an ordinary blanket, block, and strap upon strolling right into a yoga studio. “Generally a block is precisely what you want,” she says, noting that cues that decision for props should not only for newcomers—they will additionally assist skilled college students uncover a pose differently. Budig agrees, including that “props might help yogis study what it feels wish to have energy and power in a pose versus collapsing in it.”

V: Visualization

Cues that immediate you to visualise the way you interact in a pose enable you to connect with the pulsatory rhythms of a pose, referred to as the nadis, as a substitute of merely attempting to get the mechanics of it proper. “Visualization directs individuals to the sensory expertise,” says Little. “Imagery helps me understand my physique as an brisk subject, the place the weather of wind, rivers, fireplace, and moonlight are expressed, somewhat than merely as a group of muscle tissues, bones, and flesh.”

Woman in Warrior III variation with foot against wall
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

W: Go to the the wall

Partitions are sometimes an neglected asset for deepening your apply by serving to you apply engagement. It may be particularly nice for newcomers, says Carpenter. Urgent into the wall helps you apply the engagement you ultimately wish to discover with out that exterior assist.

The wall additionally acts as a prop in additional restorative kinds of yoga, together with everybody’s beloved Legs Up the Wall Pose. and might help you discover a deeper stretch in Yin Yoga postures.

See additionally 8 Methods (In addition to Handstand) to Use a Wall in Your Yoga Apply

X: X-Ray Imaginative and prescient

X-rays assist us see issues extra clearly—a key idea in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and one which yoga academics who veer into the philosophical teachings of this historical apply would possibly clarify. “Patanjali factors out that in viewing the world, we have a tendency to not see actuality clearly, however as a substitute we’re deluded by the error of false notion,” says David Life, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga. “This confusion in regards to the true relationship between the act of seeing, the item seen, and the identification of the Seer, is the foundation reason behind struggling.”

The treatment? Utilizing a form of x-ray imaginative and prescient comprised of viveka (discrimination between “actual view” and “unreal, obvious view”) and vairagya (detachment from a mistaken identification).

Y: Give attention to you

Yogis are sometimes urged to not evaluate themselves to others. This may be simpler mentioned than performed, within the studio and in life and off.  Kraftsow says one technique to embody this essential cue is to do not forget that true yoga just isn’t about doing a sequence of poses however somewhat studying about your self. “You utilize every posture as a device to know what’s occurring in your physique,” he says. This contains not simply the physiological but additionally the psychological and energetic expertise of a pose.  “Asana is a method to return to a deeper understanding of self.” Discover your engagement with the pose and see the place you could be resisting the pose in your physique in addition to your thoughts.

Z: Zip up by way of the midline

Partaking your midline is vital to turning in your all-important core muscle tissues, which selling higher stability to serving to you’re feeling extra grounded and related to your self. The cue to “zip up” makes it simpler by signaling you to faucet into the power that resides in your sushumna nadi, the hub that runs alongside your backbone round which the whole energetic system is organized, says Magone. He likes to make use of this cue when educating backbends. “Pulling the abdominals gently inward and upward in a backbend will increase your vary of movement as a result of it creates a deeper stretch within the rectus abdominis muscle tissues.”

This text has been up to date. Initially revealed June 13, 2017.

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