I was recently inspired by a quote from a recent interview with Pavel Tsatsouline of StrongFirst notoriety (a Special Forces trainer known for bringing kettlebell training technique out of the former USSR):

“Use strength, find space, spread the load … and breathe through the tight spot.” ~ Pavel Tsatsouline

Pavel’s techniques are globally known to be powerful ways to progress with attaining physical strength. He goes into some detail about each piece:

Use Strength

Rather than just dropping into a movement, actively move yourself, constantly. If you’re squatting, don’t just drop into the squat but actively lower yourself there. Don’t just slide into the splits, actively press your feet apart. In other (yogic) words, move consciously and deliberately.

Find Space

Addressing fascia specifically, Pavel uses the metaphor of pulling a post out of the ground. If you just grab hold and pull, you won’t have much luck. But, if you “wiggle” it loose, work it from all angles, ease the grip the ground has on it, it’ll slide right out. In movement, don’t just jam into a joint and push; rather, ease in and out, come at it from different angles, and most importantly, RELAX as much tension from your body as possible.

Spread the Load

Make the movement/shape holistic. Don’t just focus on one joint, but explore how you can make the movement happen throughout your body.

Breathe Through the Tight Spot

Holding your breath tight or restricted will tense your entire body. Be patient, be persistent, be good at practicing.

 

Taking these principles to the yoga mat, here’s how this might change how you move:

Pavel’s Approach, on the Yoga Mat

All of yoga is a practice of balancing strength and ease. Strength and ease in balance feels comfortable. Too much strength = pushing/effort, strain, loss of energy. Too much ease = loss of focus, lack of change, resting into (and putting a lot of un-countered force through) your joints. When you’re first learning a yoga posture, use your inhale to focus on strength, your exhale to focus on ease. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to find this balance consistently, with strength and ease infusing every inhale and exhale.

Finding space in a pose can be done in a few ways. I love to teach this principle in terms of imagery: As you practice, imagine the wave of your breath creates a subtle wave throughout your entire body. Feel the expansion and increasing energy of your inhales and the relaxing let-go of your exhales as though this happens through and between every cell. This wave can become quite kinetic, turning your posture into a dynamic movement. In cobra, for example, this could become lifting and lowering through the spine, or emphasizing the front and back ribs expanding and sinking into your body along with your breath.

You can also just start “wiggling” around the joint/s. In Frog Pose (straddle), go between squeezing your knees towards each other and pressing them apart. Rock your pelvis like you’re drawing a line up and down the back wall with your tailbone. Shift your weight forward into your forearms and back into your hips. Dance in, out, around, and through the posture.

Another way to find space is what Pavel touches on in the final point: Breathing through the tight spot. Keep your body fairly still, but get energetically focused. Each inhale, try to expand your entire body – or a specific area you’re looking to loosen. Each exhale, fully relax while still holding the shape.

Spread the load by practicing yoga as though your entire being is doing it. Be fully engaged. This doesn’t mean applying extreme effort until failure. It means be present, extend your attention from one point in the pose (say, your hips in Triangle) to all joints in that pose. Play with shifting your weight over different points (getting more support out of your back foot in Triangle, or using your hand on your shin – and your shin pressing up into your hand – to bear more of the weight that’s taxing your low back/side waist) or changing your pose to take weight differently (bend and straighten your lead knee, reach your arms in different directions).

What I love about this approach is not only that it’s smart, but it’s so PLAYFUL. We’re always taking shapes in yoga. It’s a movement practice. But what we’re really doing is practicing a quality of approach. Not just what are you doing, but HOW are you doing it? Relax, enjoy, breathe, and do the thing like you love it!

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Exploring New Passions and Paths: Siobhan B

Yoga is amazing to me because it gives people the opportunity to listen to both the body and heart.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarships help winners on their journey to becoming yoga teachers. This year two bright lights will be $500 closer to their big dream! Meet one of our 2017 scholarship winners, Siobhan B:


Siobhan B


I am overjoyed that I won the Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarship!

About 4 years ago, after I lost someone close to me, I decided that deepening my yoga practice and taking this yoga teacher training course was important for my own self-growth. As a student and mom to a little person, it took 4 years to finally decide that I needed to just make this time for me (take a plunge!), and following my instinct led me to Asia and Pranalife Yoga

The student-mom life often means some pretty creative budget juggling, so this opportunity truly allows me to follow a personal dream I’ve had for years. I could not be more excited or grateful.

 


We’re SO pumped to have you be part of the 2017 Pranalife YTT, Siobhan, and look forward to being an integral part of your yoga journey. Congrats!!


Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training: Live it, give it.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson go here

 

Our scholarships are closed for the 2017 year. Sign up for our email and be the first to hear when they open again in 2018:



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Changing Paths, Changing Lives: Caroline Dutka

I want to work towards a new personal goal of becoming a yoga teacher, so that I can help other people in the same way that my yoga teachers have helped me.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training scholarships help winners on their journey to becoming yoga teachers. This year two bright lights will be $500 closer to their big dream! Meet one of our 2017 scholarship winners, Caroline Dutka:


Caroline Dutka



I am incredibly thrilled to be completing my yoga teacher training with Pranalife in 2017.

Last year, after much self-reflection and learning to be honest with myself about what I want out of life, I decided to quit a career path that I had been working towards for many years — that of being a professor. It was a challenging year for me, both personally and professionally. Often, the only thing that would brighten my day during this difficult time was yoga.

After just a few months of practicing yoga, I started to fantasize about becoming a yoga teacher.  “How wonderful that would be,” I thought. But also, “How impossible that would be for me to attain.”

Slowly, I started to take steps towards clearing the grey out of my life. Embraced by the love of my family, I eventually felt confident enough to explore new career paths that made me feel enriched, even happy.

I began working at Nutrition for Learning — a local non-profit that funds student nutrition programs (snack programs, breakfast clubs) in Waterloo Region; ensuring that no student goes to school hungry. I also started volunteering with the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre and the SHORE Centre (formerly Planned Parenthood K-W), which is a wonderful organization that provides free, non-judgmental information, counselling, and educational services on the subject of sexual health and family planning. I know first-hand how yoga can be a powerful stress reliever and I can only imagine how stressed individuals must be as refugees and as newcomers to Canada, or if they are facing the challenges of pregnancy or termination. As a yoga teacher, I clearly see how yoga could be a core part of how I can help.

I know that Pranalife will help me gain the skills that will make me an excellent teacher. A scholarship for my Pranalife YTT would mean so much to me, as it would allow me to make my first $500 investment towards one day — hopefully in the not so distant future! — opening my own studio that also acts as a safe space and community hub.


We’re SO pumped to have you be part of the 2017 Pranalife YTT, Caroline, and look forward to being an integral part of your yoga journey. Congrats!!


Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training: Live it, give it.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training with Asia Nelson go here

 

Our scholarships are closed for the 2017 year. Sign up for our email and be the first to hear when they open again in 2018:



Yoga Thoughts, Classes, and Teacher Training news, in your inbox: get it!