Squatting

This week on Instagram...


Top row:

  1. Ways to vary your squats - instructions here.
  2. Yoga cat is watching you.
  3. Safer forward bends (hip flexion) vs not-so-safe ones (lumbar flexion). Full post here.

Bottom row:

  1. Mobilise your upper back.
  2. Feet - what do yours do in Down Dog?
  3. More feet: walk with your feet pointing forward to save your knees.

Prenatal Yoga

This is a post from Janene.

 

I had a conversation with my fellow mm..yoga teachers recently about the special teaching adaptions required for pregnant students. During my own pregnancy I taught yoga up until a week before the due date, but I knew intimately what I could and couldn’t do safely (both formal learning and of course life experience) and what my body could handle. I was also very conscious about what worked and didn’t with my evolving shape.

Image via

Here are my top ten points to keep in mind for any woman who is pregnant or knows someone who is:

  1. In yoga and in daily life, remember everything is just a guide. You might read books, hear stories, or have people telling you about their experience. These are helpful, but what is right for others may or may not be right for you. For example, that whole 140 beats per minutes (bpm) exercise limit, can only be a guide, because if you normally had a higher heart rate, then even walking could tip you over 140bpm. A better guide: can you can comfortably hold a conversation while exercising? Listen, but make your own decisions.
  2. Only lie on your belly as long as it feels ok – depending on how fast you show will guide you, but it’s still a personal choice. Once your belly is too large, use hand and knees as your modification to practice.
  3. As you get bigger, lie on your left side for relaxation – why, well this is because the body is pumping more blood around and your body is under strain just due to this. As you grow larger it becomes harder for the body to do this so when you lie on your left side you are relieving pressure on the inferior vena cava which runs along your right side, thus helping return blood to the heart. And it’s also really nice.
  4. Lying on your back - yes or no? – now I found that working in a pose on my back for a short time was ok, but if it was an extended practice your options are –i) use a cushion under your buttocks to lift the hips higher than your heart ii) work in an alternate position or different pose iii) lie on your side. If you feel a tingle then you’ve done enough. The official stance is don’t do this after Trimester 1 but see point 1.
  5. Don’t squat high after 34 weeks – this is because you want to start to relax the muscles around the hips and pelvis in preparation for birth
  6. Don’t work your core after first trimester – this one is the most contentious. Yes you do need to relax your belly muscles to help the muscles stretch to accommodate the increasing belly, BUT, there is a difference between actively working and strengthening the muscles for that 6 pack and keeping the muscles engaged to help support your baby. I always encourage mums to be to keep gentle engagement through the abs to support the baby’s weight, and to help keep posture. The back can get very overworked if the tummy muscles are not active, and this can lead to complications later. Point 1 again.
  7. Work your pelvic floor until around 34 weeks – your pelvic floor helps keep the baby supported in a little hammock, so strengthen this area to help keep that load supported. Only stop when you have to. This was my life saver. (Nadine's note: read this too. Super important for HOW to work your pelvic floor)
  8. Now the one I wish I had known – don’t stretch to that point where you go ‘cool look at what I can do’. Why? This stretch is only possible because you have hormones racing around your body relaxing your muscles. Yes they are stretching, but it’s not in your normal range of movement and this means you are really making the area stretched unstable and unsafe. This can lead to evil problems eg back pain, pelvic instability etc. Nasty.
  9. Breath deeply, keep relaxing and go with the flow - the body is under great stress so remember, be kind. No harm every came from resting did it. And, if you feel short of breath then it’s likely your blood volume.
  10. Your pregnancy is unique to you, right here, right now. Just because a woman is pregnant doesn't mean that they will have issues, BUT pregnancy will exploit known and unknown weaknesses in your body, known or not.   

Neen headshot

About the author: Janene Watt crams a lot into her days. She's a working mumma who teaches yoga on the side. 

Enter the $1000 Squat Challenge here!

Would YOU do squat for $1000? The third annual mm...Yoga! retreat is coming up in Bali in November and one lucky person can win $1000 towards it.

This is how: the person, in Melbourne or elsewhere, who squats the longest with good form, wins the $1000. Easy right? Well, not that hard, anyway, given it's been all squats all the time at mm...Yoga! this year. This is an excellent guide for getting you squat ready. Pop over & read it.

Here's what we are looking for (and maybe you will actually do better, since I have that sticky outy lower back thing going on):

squat challenge

Rules:

  • You may enter in person, at any mm...Yoga! class. Your teacher will assess your form and time you - you get one go and can only make your attempt if you've entered here.
  • You may enter via video, by filming yourself and placing a clock on your mat so we can see the passage of time.
  • You have until June 30 to make your attempt. You must enter your details in the form below to qualify.
  • You must be in good health and your entry must not compromise your wellness. If we find out it has, you will be disqualified. Also, you will be in pain. Which is silly.
  • You may use the entire $1000 towards funding your own retreat payment, or you may split your winnings with a friend. Prize is not transferable - it will be used to discount the cost of your mm...Yoga! retreat. If you can't take up your prize, it will be allocated to the person who came second.

 

Update: This competition is now closed, thanks to everyone who entered it. Veronica Michich won by squatting, with good form, for just over ten minutes. Ten minutes!

If you can sit + stand up from the floor, you will live longer.

Have you noticed the very strong squatting theme round here lately? Here's (another reason) why. Squatting develops musculo-skeletal fitness, in a way that, say, walking, doesn't.

When you are strong, supple, and balanced, things like sitting down on the floor and then getting back up are easy.

And there is evidence to suggest that this particular kind of fitness decreases your risk of mortality from ALL causes! Yeah, eventually we are all gonna die, but there's nothing wrong with putting that off as long as possible.

So, could you stand up from here?
So, could you stand up from here?

According to this article:

The test was a simple assessment of the subjects' ability to sit and then rise unaided from the floor. The assessment was performed in 2002 adults of both sexes and with ages ranging from 51 to 80 years. The subjects were followed-up from the date of the baseline test until the date of death or 31 October 2011, a median follow-up of 6.3 years.

 

Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9%. The majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores - indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of 10. Analysis found that survival in each of the four categories differed with high statistical significance. These differences persisted when results were controlled for age, gender and body mass index, suggesting that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality; indeed, subjects in the lower score range (C1) had a 5-6 times higher risk of death than those in the reference group (C4).

 

It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy.

 

Yeah. Time to get squatting. And yoga-ing in general, actually.

Have a great week.

Good squatting technique

  As I said on this blog last week, squatting is awfully good for you. Done right, of course.

I've found YET another article to support this. It has a great illustration, for one:

baby-squat

Also, it quotes Kelly Starrett who you are about to watch in the below video.

One Hundred Percent of people I see in the clinic with osteochondritis, flaking-off, osteochondral defects, chondral malasia- which is a softening of articular surfaces- usually with a meniscus injury….All these things are accompanied by people who are not squatting, they are knee bending…..They can’t squat, they have never been shown, it is their coaches fault, their PE teachers fault….They’re gonna have muted hip function and lead with the knees….The best way I know how to fix them is to teach them to squat. The squat magically cures knee pain.

I know this is an exaggeration but if we can teach people how to squat correctly it carries over to reducing shear forces in landing, walking stairs, improves running mechanics and a long list of benefits for your athletes or clients.

This is the best video I've ever found to explain good squatting technique. Granted, we yogis don't add those monstrous weights to our practices, but a good squat is a good squat, and a bad one...will hurt you. The monstrous weights mean that people HAVE to keep their technique 'clean' or they will get hurt a heck of a lot faster.

I've seen way too may people who have form like this girl - including me, with my sticky-outy ass! It can be corrected though, with the right movement cues.

The opposite is also true: round your lower back and 'tucking the tailbone' when squatting can lead to all manner of nasties, including lumbar disc compression. So, stick your ass out, but STABILISE your core by setting your legs up properly.

Watch and marvel.

 

Check it out, try it out, let me know what you think.