YogaByCandace

Ask A Yoga Question

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Hi Candace!

 

I sometimes move from shoulder stand to bridge (and vice versa) during my asana practice. On some occasions, I position my palms or fists on my low back while moving in and out of the postures for additional support. This is not a progression I've encountered in a group class; rather, I discovered it while playing on the mat at home. The progression seems natural and graceful to me, plus I feel strong and in tune with my body doing it. However, I'm not sure if it is advisable from a physiological standpoint to move this way. In your professional opinion, is moving from shoulder stand to bridge (or vice versa) safe? 

 

Thanks,

 

Renee   

 

Shoulderstand - Sarvangasana to supported bridge - Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (then to wheel - Urdhva Dhanurasana and then from wheel to Tadasana)

 

These are all common asanas so they are safe. Safe, as long as they are practiced with the proper alignment and strength. The transition may not be common but it is practiced as well. There are many variations of supported bridge.

 

But the important question is; what level or variation is appropriate or safe for the person practicing them? That is something that you have to determine for yourself or maybe with the help of an experienced teacher. 

 

This is one of my favorites, but I haven't quite made it all the way to Tadasana, yet :)

 

I should also add that shoulderstand to bridge is usually done with a 'walk over'. That means going into shoulderstand splits, bring one foot down then the other to bridge.

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Hi Candace. 

Slightly on the embarrassing side, but I spent most of my life feeling like I couldn't do yoga. I'm small but full figured (bust and hips), and have three small children. However, I started going to yoga three months ago, and began a habit at home. My problem is at currently a Double D, I struggle with some of the poses. For instance, a simple forward bend, where my instructor says to get your forehead to your knee. I'm kind of suffocating in my cleavage with the best sports bra coverage (or would be if i pushed my forehead any further) Do you have any suggestions? 

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Hi Candace. 

Slightly on the embarrassing side, but I spent most of my life feeling like I couldn't do yoga. I'm small but full figured (bust and hips), and have three small children. However, I started going to yoga three months ago, and began a habit at home. My problem is at currently a Double D, I struggle with some of the poses. For instance, a simple forward bend, where my instructor says to get your forehead to your knee. I'm kind of suffocating in my cleavage with the best sports bra coverage (or would be if i pushed my forehead any further) Do you have any suggestions? 

I feel your pain, as I experience similar issues! Not embarrassing at all - some people pay for this "problem"! :1:  Answering this today along with the others I haven't answered. Stay tuned!  :cheers:

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Hi Candace! I have been practicing yoga for about 2 years on/off and I my focus is currently on hip openers and low back stretches. I have been incorporating supta gomukhasana into my routine and have noticed that whenever I am in the pose my legs go numb. As soon as I release the pose it starts to subside. It's not always uncomfortable, but sometimes it can be. I was wondering if that is a "normal" thing that could happen (since the legs are essentially being squeezed together) and if not, is there a way to prevent it? Thanks so much! 

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Hi Candace and everyone! I suffer from tight hips, a result of my desk job :/. So I love pigeon pose, except for one small problem: it almost feels like the skin on my inner thigh of my forward/bent leg is stretching. It definitely isn't the feeling of the muscles stretching--this is located on the surface and can be very uncomfortable. Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a way to adjust the pose so I still get that great stretch through my hips and glutes, without placing strain on this area of skin?

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Hey Candace, how are you doing? Firstly, I want to thank you for answering my question on Facebook. I am not confused anymore. But I have got a couple more questions:

 

1. I know that it will sound silly and obvious, but what does "always work within a free-pain range" mean?

 

2. Another silly question: how can I follow your videos? Is it recommended to watch the video first and then do the sequence? What do you think?

 

Greetings from Brazil,

 

Ana Paula

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Is it wrong to not want to be challenged by my yoga practice? I have severe depression and there are days when everything is a challenge to me. Yoga has helped me greatly in the past, but the experience of not being able to keep up or feeling pain in an asana that's supposed to feel good will bring on a flood of negative thoughts that I can't just shut off or will away or smile through. This has happened more than once when I've tried to challenge myself with more difficult practices, and it's discouraging enough to keep me off the mat for months at a time (which I realize is a "me" problem and not the fault of the instructor). Could you maybe talk a little about what "finding your edge" means to you, and how someone might go about finding their own edge in a healthy way?

 

Thanks for doing what you do, Candace.

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Hi Candace! I have been practicing yoga for about 2 years on/off and I my focus is currently on hip openers and low back stretches. I have been incorporating supta gomukhasana into my routine and have noticed that whenever I am in the pose my legs go numb. As soon as I release the pose it starts to subside. It's not always uncomfortable, but sometimes it can be. I was wondering if that is a "normal" thing that could happen (since the legs are essentially being squeezed together) and if not, is there a way to prevent it? Thanks so much! 

I think it's a 'normal' thing for sure, and I'll give more details when I answer in this week's AAYQ post :)

 

Hi Candace and everyone! I suffer from tight hips, a result of my desk job :/. So I love pigeon pose, except for one small problem: it almost feels like the skin on my inner thigh of my forward/bent leg is stretching. It definitely isn't the feeling of the muscles stretching--this is located on the surface and can be very uncomfortable. Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a way to adjust the pose so I still get that great stretch through my hips and glutes, without placing strain on this area of skin?

I know exactly what you're saying. I've experienced this (and sometimes still do when I'm not warmed up). I'll offer some detailed tips when I answer in this week's AAYQ.

 

Hey Candace, how are you doing? Firstly, I want to thank you for answering my question on Facebook. I am not confused anymore. But I have got a couple more questions:

 

1. I know that it will sound silly and obvious, but what does "always work within a free-pain range" mean?

 

2. Another silly question: how can I follow your videos? Is it recommended to watch the video first and then do the sequence? What do you think?

 

Greetings from Brazil,

 

Ana Paula

Not silly questions!! Promise! Always work within a pain-free range just means to make sure you never experience pain. There is a difference between discomfort from being tight or stiff and actual pain because the alignment is off, do you know what I mean? We want to find that "edge", but never into a realm of pain. Does that make sense? 

 

I think if you first language is Portuguese (or another language that's not English), it might be best to "fast forward" through the video first (like just drag the curser) so you know what is going on before trying it out. But if your English understanding is good (and yours seems to be perfect!), maybe just try it without having to "fast forward" first? 

 

 

 

Is it wrong to not want to be challenged by my yoga practice? I have severe depression and there are days when everything is a challenge to me. Yoga has helped me greatly in the past, but the experience of not being able to keep up or feeling pain in an asana that's supposed to feel good will bring on a flood of negative thoughts that I can't just shut off or will away or smile through. This has happened more than once when I've tried to challenge myself with more difficult practices, and it's discouraging enough to keep me off the mat for months at a time (which I realize is a "me" problem and not the fault of the instructor). Could you maybe talk a little about what "finding your edge" means to you, and how someone might go about finding their own edge in a healthy way?

 

Thanks for doing what you do, Candace.

I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a big hug. It is definitely not wrong to not want to be challenged. Sometimes just getting through the day is a challenge enough and the yoga can be a refuge where we get dedicated time to just BE, without any adding to it. I will answer your last questions in detail in this week's AAYQ, but I do want to say here that what I love about yoga is that I find it to be reflective of whatever's going on inside. If I'm feeling angry, my practice will be jerky. If I'm feeling distracted, I won't be able to balance in even the most simple pose. If I'm feeling sad or extremely tired, my practice will feel "heavy", and just moving from child's pose to all fours will make me feel like I've just moved a mountain. So that's just an interesting little thing to me. Sometimes we get so caught up in this very physical practice that the emphasis is all on the end result - the headstand, the backbend, whatever. But did you know that some of the most gifted yoga students and teachers I know - the ones who can twist themselves in every pretzel pose imaginable have the hardest time staying still in savasana? I think it's great to have a balance of challenge, sure, but to me the most important thing - what I personally understand to be the highest form of yoga, is acknowledging our bodies and souls and learning to honor what they need. If you feel you might benefit from a more physical practice once in a while, then by all means, if you have the energy, challenge yourself to give it a go without judgement or fear. But if you know in your heart of hearts that right now, and maybe for the next few days, weeks or months, you need a more meditative practice, a little more yin and zero yang, then that is what you should do. Sending love.xo

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Hi Candance

 

Im a 49 year old male from the south east. I always looked at Yoga as an activity for Hippies and girls. My mind and perception were changed however when i started experiencing back pain. I was prescribed meds and they work but I hate taking meds as well as my work does not support the use of narcotics. I am still new to the art and was wondering if you could offer some poses for sciatica nerve pain. I use two now, I don't know the names but both are lying on my back knee to chest and the other is knee to chest. Knee pulled to one side while looking and reaching to the other side. Also I don't know how long to hold the poses. Any help would be appreciated. 

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Hi Candance

 

Im a 49 year old male from the south east. I always looked at Yoga as an activity for Hippies and girls. My mind and perception were changed however when i started experiencing back pain. I was prescribed meds and they work but I hate taking meds as well as my work does not support the use of narcotics. I am still new to the art and was wondering if you could offer some poses for sciatica nerve pain. I use two now, I don't know the names but both are lying on my back knee to chest and the other is knee to chest. Knee pulled to one side while looking and reaching to the other side. Also I don't know how long to hold the poses. Any help would be appreciated. 

 

Candace has a sciatica video on the YBC website.  Check it out!

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Hi Candace!  I'm working on my forearm wheel.  Am I doing it wrong?  I get into wheel then lower down onto my head and then my forearms.  From there I try to pick my head back up (like in all the gorgeous pinterest pictures) but I can't!  Thank you!

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HI! my name is Katie and I have been practicing yoga for a few months now and i have greatly improved! I love your site and all the helpful tips and I use the videos you post for a good amount of my practice. but my question is I have been working towards 2 legged king pidgeon (I think that's what it is called) anyhoo what can i do to improve my back flexibility inorder to do it correctly?

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Hi Candace! I'm experiencing low back pain when I attempt full wheel pose. I'm not sure what the issue here is, as I have taken photos of myself in camel pose and I feel I have good back flexibility and I also believe my shoulder flexibility is quite good. I can get up into full wheel, but if I move even an inch the pain in my lower back is debilitating, to the point where I fall to the floor and feel really unwell for a good 5 minutes or so. Do you have any ideas as to what else could cause issues with this pose?

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Hi Candace! I'm experiencing low back pain when I attempt full wheel pose. I'm not sure what the issue here is, as I have taken photos of myself in camel pose and I feel I have good back flexibility and I also believe my shoulder flexibility is quite good. I can get up into full wheel, but if I move even an inch the pain in my lower back is debilitating, to the point where I fall to the floor and feel really unwell for a good 5 minutes or so. Do you have any ideas as to what else could cause issues with this pose?

If you have a pic of you doing camel or wheel on instagram just tag me and I'll check it out and let you know what I see. Pain is never what we want in the practice, so I would say it might be a lack of shoulder/armpit flexibility, but it's hard for me to tell without seeing it.. 

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Hi Candace! I'm experiencing low back pain when I attempt full wheel pose. I'm not sure what the issue here is, as I have taken photos of myself in camel pose and I feel I have good back flexibility and I also believe my shoulder flexibility is quite good. I can get up into full wheel, but if I move even an inch the pain in my lower back is debilitating, to the point where I fall to the floor and feel really unwell for a good 5 minutes or so. Do you have any ideas as to what else could cause issues with this pose?

Ouch! I felt your pain just reading. Definitely don't practice this pose until you get the problem solved. Yoga should never hurt. It sounds like it is only this pose that is causing pain so should you see a doctor if it happens at other times? 

 

It sounds like you are 'dumping' into the lower back. Or compression of the lumbar spine. This is a very common problem but it could be other things.

 

Backbends are very challenging poses. A comfortable backbend requires the entire spine to work uniformly. Some parts of the spine are naturally more flexible and will have a sharper bend, the lumbar spine, but the bend has to come from all parts of the spine and everything attached to the spine. 

 

If you have a tight spot in the shoulders or thoracic area that will transfer more of the bend, and compression of the spine to the more flexible part, the lumbar spine. And this will cause pain and injury in the lumbar spine.

 

I remember reading an article from a doctor who also taught yoga teacher training. It said that it is impossible to safely bend the spine without extension of the spine. This meant bends in all directions, forward, backward, to the side and even twists. In a forward fold it is easy to picture the spine getting longer. In a backbend it seems like the spine would be getting shorter. But this is wrong and causes compression and pain. The spine actually has to extend in order to bend safely and achieve deep bends.

 

There is a deep backbend called Kapotasana. The full expression of the pose is very difficult. But the first learning steps are not deep backbends. They teach strong extension of the spine without going into a deep bend. It also forces a person to stop at a comfortable spot until a person is ready for more. I remember finding this very helpful for learning better backbbends. If you can find a proper teaching for Kapotasana that could be some very good help.

 

I am just an average yogi passing along a few things that I have learned so take it for what it is worth.

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If you have a pic of you doing camel or wheel on instagram just tag me and I'll check it out and let you know what I see. Pain is never what we want in the practice, so I would say it might be a lack of shoulder/armpit flexibility, but it's hard for me to tell without seeing it.. 

Thanks Candace, I'll try to get a picture of camel up today some time :)

 

Ouch! I felt your pain just reading. Definitely don't practice this pose until you get the problem solved. Yoga should never hurt. It sounds like it is only this pose that is causing pain so should you see a doctor if it happens at other times? 

 

It sounds like you are 'dumping' into the lower back. Or compression of the lumbar spine. This is a very common problem but it could be other things.

Yes, it's definitely just this pose - I'm more than happy with other back bending postures, they feel quite good. My back is usually helped rather than hindered by yoga. "Dumping" into the lower back pretty much sums up how it feels. I can get up, then two seconds later it's that debilitating pain. I'm hoping to be able to get up comfortably as I have been able to in the past...although I was a fair bit younger admittedly  :huh:

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Hi Candace.  I hope you're well.

I really need to get back to yoga and be diligent with my regular practice.  My main objective has always been to lose weight, but have been told often that yoga does not make you lose weight.  Would you be able to recommend, from your existing video library, a sequence that could help with weight-loss?  Thank you.

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Hi Candace.  I hope you're well.

I really need to get back to yoga and be diligent with my regular practice.  My main objective has always been to lose weight, but have been told often that yoga does not make you lose weight.  Would you be able to recommend, from your existing video library, a sequence that could help with weight-loss?  Thank you.

Hey there! To be honest, I wouldn't choose yoga as the main way to lose weight. It just, in my opinion, isn't the most effective way to lose weight. (I would say that along with diet, HIIT workouts and strength training are super effective, but that's just the opinion of someone who is very interested in physical fitness but has zero qualifications...although I did take a personal training course, I just never took the test to be certified.)

 

I had a man at one of my retreats who was very overweight. He was awesome, he did what he could, he knew all the modifications for a big person, and he really listened to his body. He had such a strong background in what worked for him and being in tune with his body. It was awesome.

 

Here's the thing: a person with extra weight has a different counterpoint of gravity. They'll need to adjust nearly every pose to accommodate this center point of gravity. They'll need to modify poses to accommodate a large chest and belly. They have to simply trust themselves that they know what feels right, do you know what I mean? 

 

That being said, in my opinion any movement is better than no movement so any yoga video from the gentle playlist on my youtube channel to the beginner power video would be okay for you to try provided you keep the above in mind, and ignore the alignment cues. (IE When I say, "Picture your body as an upside down letter V" or"Take the feet hip distance"  - you'll have to ignore all these cues because a bigger person is going to need to adjust the pose to accommodate their center of gravity and therefore the pose is not going to look like a V and the feet will likely need to be wider than hip distance or the center of gravity will be off.) I know that's super vague, and it is kind of scary to have to just trust yourself, especially if you're new or just getting back into yoga after a long time off, so for this reason I would suggest going to a yoga class and talk with the instructor ahead of time to ask if they can just give you some pointers throughout the class given your weight.

 

(Side note: it also matters how much extra weight you've got - someone with ten or fifteen pounds may not need to adjust as much as someone with thirty or more.) I will also advise talking with an instructor and asking them frankly if they have worked with people who are overweight and know how to accommodate their needs, because my biggest gripe with yoga teacher training is that we're not taught any of this. Well, at least I wasn't. It's quite frustrating wanting to help someone but not knowing how...and this comes back to that great guy I had at my retreat. He was so helpful to me in showing me what worked and what didn't, and describing how he felt in certain poses and what he needed to do to accommodate his size. I am forever grateful to him for that. 

 

Anyway! Yeah, I would say so long as you feel confident that you can trust that you know what's best for your body you should be okay to try any of the gentle vids or the beginner flow video. I hope that is helpful! :13:

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Easy Pose question: It feels comfortable to keep my hips even, my spine long, and my shoulders straight, but my stomach tenses up like crazy. More, I think, than is really necessary to sit straight. I try to relax but it keeps tensing right back up again, and I find I spent the beginning, meditative part of the session obsessing about it instead of setting myself up for a good practice. Do you have any recommendations? Seriously back to the basics, here, but this has caused me to wonder how much extra tension I carry there through a normal day. Thanks!

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Easy Pose question: It feels comfortable to keep my hips even, my spine long, and my shoulders straight, but my stomach tenses up like crazy. More, I think, than is really necessary to sit straight. I try to relax but it keeps tensing right back up again, and I find I spent the beginning, meditative part of the session obsessing about it instead of setting myself up for a good practice. Do you have any recommendations? Seriously back to the basics, here, but this has caused me to wonder how much extra tension I carry there through a normal day. Thanks!

Great question. I'll post in more detail on the next AAYQ but I would say this maybe has something to do with perhaps the chest/upper back - is it the top of your stomach that tenses up? If so, it might be kind of a "side effect" of trying to keep the chest nice and open and shoulder blades drawing toward one another. It might also be a sign that the core might need a little strengthening (because, really, how often do we sit nice and tall like that? It's a lot of work for the core to keep ourselves perfectly upright like that without slouching).  :)

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I seem to have lost my balance! In class, I cannot hold any of my balance poses - including my favorite tree. While I do sometimes rush it or try to muscle through it during class, I'm finding that things aren't any better during my home practice. How do I develope my balance "muscles"?

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I seem to have lost my balance! In class, I cannot hold any of my balance poses - including my favorite tree. While I do sometimes rush it or try to muscle through it during class, I'm finding that things aren't any better during my home practice. How do I develope my balance "muscles"?

Will answer this in the next AAYQ post - stay tuned!

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