Category Archives: Intermediate Yoga Sequences

6 Deep Hip Openers to Try Instead of Pigeon Pose

These powerful alternates will help you open your hips in all directions.

Knowing the planes helps us improve range of motion in our hips.

Many of us could use more hip opening. From sitting to standing to walking, our legs are constantly working to support our upper bodies. All this effort can make hip muscles chronically tight, especially when we’re sitting for long periods at desks or in cars. 

Understanding Hip-Opening

The phrase “hip-opening” often creates confusion, as many people assume that it’s similar to opening a door or book, and therefore limited to taking your legs apart. But opening your hips means creating mobility in all directions. 

Hips are ball and socket joints, which are the most mobile joints in your body. The head of each thigh bone (femur bone) forms the “ball’, which sits in the socket (acetabulum) of your pelvis. 

Ball and socket joints also do circumduction, which means moving in all three planes, like when you swing your leg in a circle.

See also From Hypermobility to Stability: What You Need to Know About Open Hips

In order to stretch a particular muscle group, you must take your body in the opposite direction of that group’s movement. For example, if you’ve been sitting for long periods, which is hip flexion (taking thighs toward your chest), you’ll want to extend your hip (taking your thighs back) to release your hip flexors.

Your Hips in All Planes of Movement 

We are three-dimensional beings. We move in space in many different directions. We can go forward and backward, side to side, and inward and outward. And most of the time, we move in some combination of those directions all at once. For example, to set up our front legs in Pigeon, we must both open our legs to the …

Yoga for Diabetes: 12 Poses and a Meditation to Mitigate Stress

Use this sequence to find refuge from the clutches of chronic illness.

Evan Soroka

Resting is hard for me. I would rather be on the go, overcoming hurdles or realizing my life vision. However, it’s difficult to achieve creative goals without rest, introspection, and relaxation. The same is true in diabetes care. If you have diabetes, like me, you’re constantly connected to your continuous glucose monitor, personal diabetes manager, or insulin pump. People with this condition are plugged into a monitor to stay alive, and blood glucose readings get mixed up with who we think we are and we lose our sense of self. Every arrow on the screen, every deviation up or down leaves a residue of subtle negative emotion in the landscape of the body and mind, making it impossible to relax, because every misstep can have potentially deadly consequences.

Any person facing modern technological advances suffers a great deal from similar mind spin; diabetes is just the microcosm of the macrocosm. The disease simply accentuates the detrimental distractions that people face without diabetes. Mental fluctuations are influenced by external and internal factors. For instance, a blood glucose reading of 400 mg/dL (very high!) can be a catalyst for thoughts that can spiral out of control because of past negative experiences—any number outside of normal range may cause you to remember the last time your glucose was too high and how awful you felt. Even more subtle than the thought is the impression left by the event. You may carry judgmental guilt, stew in the past, fret about what you should have done, worry about the long-term effects, or whatever the story may be. When the mind spins, we often react instead of respond. On a physiological level, the nervous system is in overdrive. A heightened state …

A Gentle Yoga Sequence to Target Your Nerves

Your yoga practice can be a therapeutic tool for pain management and prevention. Try this gentle sequence to target your nerves and protect their signaling powers.

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With all of the new and emerging information on pain science, yoga students and teachers have the opportunity to apply modern research to their practices and help alleviate and prevent pain.

Preliminary research suggests that gentle movement of your nerves is vital to both managing pain and supporting the general health of your nervous system. The idea is that healthy nerves should be able to gently slide, elongate, and angulate within neural tissues (some nerves can move as much as ¾ inch) in order to adapt to different loads and minimize pressure that can worsen existing pain, alter sensation, or lead to new pain patterns. Sometimes, tone and tension around neural tissues can be a problem. These tissues are bloodthirsty and rely on an important pressure gradient around them to maintain adequate blood flow. So even small changes in tissue tension around a nerve can be enough to block nerve mobility and lead to compression that disrupts blood flow and nerve signaling back to the brain, contributing to pain.

See also Low Back Pain 101: 3 Sequences to Ease Your Pain

To help you keep your nerves adaptable and protected, try the asana technique on the following pages based on an understanding of neurodynamics (the study of nerve movement through its surrounding tissues) and nerve pathways. We have the ability to alternately put tension on different ends of the nerve to create a movement of the nerve through the tissues, often referred to as nerve gliding. As you floss the nerve, you potentially allow it to …

Try This Viniyoga Sequence to Manage Addictive Behavior

The founder of the American Viniyoga Institute shares insight on Viniyoga practices and a sequence for helping to manage addictive behavior.

Gary Kraftsow

We use the term Viniyoga—an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application—to refer to an approach that adapts yoga practice to the unique conditions, needs, and interests of each individual. This traditional yoga lineage gives each practitioner the tools they need to individualize and actualize the process of self-discovery and personal transformation.

In Viniyoga, we believe that yoga can effect positive change in each practitioner. This requires an understanding of a person’s present condition, personal potential, and goals. Using the teachings and practices of yoga—including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual, and the study of texts—we create an integrated practice to help practitioners move through pain, grief, depression, addiction, and more.

See also Meet Gary Kraftsow: A Leading Teacher of Viniyoga Yoga Therapy

There are four main differences between the Viniyoga approach to asana and most other forms of asana practice:

  1. Function over form. We emphasize the function rather than the form of asana and use the science of adapting the forms of the postures to achieve different results and benefits. 
  2. Breath and adaptation. We focus on breath as the medium for movement in asana, and the science of adapting the pattern of breathing in postures to produce different effects, depending upon the goal. 
  3. Repetition and stay. The use of repetition into and out of the postures, as well as holding the postures, enhances the structural and energetic effects of practice. 
  4. The art and science of sequencing. Viniyoga teachers create practices of different orientation, length, and intensity to suit the intention and context of each practice and practitioner. 

According to Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of most Western forms of …

12 Yoga Poses to Energize Your Body For Summer


Spice up your yoga routine with these fresh yoga poses to spark joy and energize your body for the season.

About our author

Ryanne Cunningham is a practicing yogi for over 20 years and a yoga instructor for 16 years. Ryanne is a published author (“Yoga For Athletes” published by Human Kinetics). She has her 500hr advanced TT. She has studied at Satchidanada Ashram through the Hatha Yoga and Cardiac Yoga programs. She has trained at a Green Bay, WI Ashtanga and Vinyasa studio for 10 years and is currently studying Dharma Yoga. For the past 6 years she has owned her own yoga studio (Flow Yoga Studio in De Pere, WI) where she works with many athletes of all levels, including many of the Green Bay Packers. 

See also 10 Detoxifying Yoga Poses for a Summer ‘Cleanse’

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