YOGA ALIGNMENT TIPS FOR ATHLETES
yoga biomechanics & body alignment for optimal loading of the body
MOUNTAIN POSE - TADASANA
Tadasana is our foundation and helps us become aware of our habits. Feet pointing straight ahead and outer edges of feet parallel with outer edges of mat. Frontal hip bones (ASIS) align with feet (straight down). Weight should be driving down through heels. Tendency is forward sway of hips, however front of foot is not meant to be weight bearing (this can result in foot problems: collapsed arches/plantar fasciitis/etc). Use a yoga strap or belt to check your alignment. There should be a vertical line from the center of the hip straight down dissecting the center of the heel. Some types of yoga suggest big toes touching in mountain pose. That is totally fine if you want to practice yoga this way, especially in flow classes. But if you are using yoga as a tool to train your mind/body for life off the mat, you may want to try tadasana pose this way.
Foundations of a strong yoga practice incorporate safe alignment of hands and feet in all poses.
When you are weight bearing on your hands (ex: down dog, plank, etc), make sure to press weight equally through all four corners of your palm. With fingers spread evenly, press into the finger pads to help the index finger knuckle stay grounded. Keeping this alignment will distribute the weight evenly and will alleviate any wrist pain in poses.
Chaturanga Dandasana: inhale in plank pose and on the exhale, lower halfway down to chaturanga. Elbows in close to ribs, shoulder stay in line with elbows (keep them at 90 degrees to prevent shoulder heads from rolling forward and down).
*: I do not teach this pose to athletes. However, I think it is important to see what the proper alignment of this pose looks like.
From high lunge, ground your back heel down. Front leg is bent toward 90 degrees, hips open to one side. Older alignment principles taught us to bring front heel in direct line with back arch. We now know biomechanically, it’s better for our bodies to line up heels. Try this version and see if it works for you.
benefits: stretches hamstrings & calves; strengthens thighs; relieves headache & insomnia; calming to nervous system
From mountain pose (feet hip width or wider), inhale arms up overhead, exhale fold forward from hip joints. Bring feet as wide as the mat and reach for elbows (rag doll pose). Keep a soft bend in your knees to keep pressure out of low back. Lean weight slightly forward to lengthen hamstrings.
If you have any knee issues, use a blanket underneath knees for added support. Bring knees as wide as the yoga mat and big toes to touch behind you. Sink hips back to heels. If hips don't reach heels, place a blanket or two in between hips and heels. Walk your hands out in front of you. Lengthen your arms, but let them relax down. Bring forehead down to the mat. If your hips don’t touch heels, your forehead probably won’t reach the ground. Place a block underneath your forehead to bring the ground closer to you. Once you are settled in, take some deep breaths here. In through the nose, out through the nose. Slowly roll forehead on the mat side to side (this should feel relaxing). Stay here as long as you need to and come back to this pose, when you need to rest or you need a few quiet moments before a game.