Bend So You Don’t Break


“Saying you are not flexible for yoga
is like saying you are too dirty for a bath.”

Throughout our years of experience in teaching yoga, we have met students with different capabilities, understandings, and approaches when it comes to the yoga practice.

One of the most common concerns beginner students have is, “I am not flexible, so I don’t know if yoga is for me.” If you worry about this, too, then yoga is actually one of the best ways to release stiffness and tension in the body, as well as improve your joint mobility. It is very common nowadays for not only elders, but also in fairly younger people, to have very limited joint mobility, especially on the knees and the lower back. Lack of mobility in the joints (perhaps due to lack of daily stretching/movement or any exercise in general) leads to poor posture, more serious joint injuries and other health implications.

Mobility on the hips is one of, if not the most important part of the body to keep in check because the more mobile you are on your hips, the more mobile you will be on the other parts of your upper and lower body. Likewise, if you are too tight or stiff on your hips, your upper and lower body muscles and joints will compensate for this lack of mobility on your hips. For example, in a physical activity as simple as walking, there will always be a gentle twisting motion happening in both the lower back and the knees if the hips are tight – the more we are mindful of this simple reminder, the more we can prevent suffering from lower back and knee pain in the future.

In practices such as Ashtanga Vinyasa and Rocket Vinyasa, there are so many postures in the standing and seated sequences that work on hip opening, which make these asana practices are a great way to alleviate pressure on the lower back, as well as a safe way to maximize the knees’ anatomical function – flexion, extension, and a little bit of rotation.

With regards to poor posture, these yoga asana sequences are especially beneficial for people who are used to working around 8 hours a day seated and hunched over a desk. Not only will the standing and seated sequences give you the opportunity to practice stretches that release the back of the body, but you will also cultivate good posture by practicing correct spinal alignment.

Moreover, as having flexible hips will release stiffness in the spine, it will also eventually increase your lung capacity, thereby allowing you to take deeper breaths. Deeper breaths cultivates more energy into your life, strengthens your immune system, slows down the aging process, calms the mind by reducing tension and stress, and fortifies your body’s natural ability to heal, among many other benefits

All of the amazing benefits that having a flexible body are available to anybody who wants to practice yoga – as long as one’s mind is open to the idea of not letting one’s capacities and limitations be a barrier to the practice. Just get on your mat, practice with patience and persistence, and soon enough, you will experience progress.

Acceptance in the Yoga Practice


Practicing yoga is an amazing experience – there is so much wisdom in every practice, in every breath we take when we move through asana sequences. Especially if you like to practice styles like Ashtanga Vinyasa or Rocket Vinyasa, where there is always a fixed sequence, the practice allows you to clearly notice the fluctuations of the body and the mind as you put yourself thorough the same sequences every day. There will be days where you will notice that your mind is calm, your body is flexible, and everything seems to be smooth and perfect; and similarly, there will be days when the body and the mind feel stiff or heavy, or seem to be pulling you in different directions. So how do you deal with all this as a yoga practitioner?

First of all, it is quote important to realize that there is no “good” practice or “bad” practice – every practice is a process of recognizing yourself on a deeper level, and most importantly, of accepting oneself in the present moment. When you approach our practice with more equanimity, and with simply an intention to learn from it, then you will received wisdom from the practice. However, if you approach the practice with the idea that it will ultimately bring you peace, happiness, and lightness all the time, then you are limiting your chances to learn and deepen your practice and your yoga journey.

All the mental patterns that come up during our practice (even off the mat) is a result of our experiences – which we may perceive as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Particular experiences, depending on how strong it is, will create an imprint in one’s mind in this lifetime (and other lives, if you believe in past life). Some past experiences are so strong that it eventually comes back to you, or may be triggered when you expose yourself to a similar situation, feeling, or environment that is similar to the said experience. The result of this will be a wrong perception of reality because what you really perceived is the reality based on a past experience, and not the reality as it is presented.

In this regard, if we approach our practice with just the intention to learn whatever the present moment has to teach, these imprints from past experiences will inevitably float to the surface of the mind repetitively. And although this will happen naturally, we must resist the urge to dwell on and follow these imprints as they arise; instead, we must learn to simply acknowledge them, and eventually, they will reduce. This is why the practice is called a therapy or cleansing process – not only for the physical body, but also for the mind and the spirit.

This is one of the most powerful results you can reap from the yoga practice: the ability to cultivate equanimity in yourself, and the ability to let go of things that no longer serve you in the present moment. This will allow you to perceive reality as it is.

The practice is supposed to give us clarity, and clarity of the mind will only be possible when your awareness allows you to recognize and accept what is going on in the mind, whether they be “good” or “bad.” If we only look forward to having pleasant experiences, it will increase our level of desire and attachment – and if we train our mind this way, finding peace or happiness in life will be very difficult, as the mind will always have the need to find pleasure in whatever we do. And as we all know, life has a bit of everything – ups and downs, happiness and loneliness, success and defeat, and so on.

Practicing acceptance can make a monumental difference on your practice, and as well as on your life. It is a constant learning process, but it will definitely help you improve the state of your overall well-being.

Parsvabakasana Technique



Parsvabakasana or Side Crow Pose is an arm balance in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Advanced Series, as well as in the Rocket 2 and Rocket 3 sequences. This posture requires considerable arm strength, as well as flexibility in the forearm muscles and the thoracic spine, to be able to twist the spine and keep the shoulders balanced as the body weight is held over the hands.

Let us discuss some tips that can help you practice this asana in a safe way…
When you do Chaturanga Dandasana, notice the position of your upper body in relation to and your arms. Slowing down your Chaturanga Dandasana will help you build up a lot of strength to work your way into Parsvabakasana. Here is are some key actions you should pay attention to when practicing your Chaturanga:

Tuck the elbows inward, and keep them close to the body
Keep the shoulders in line or slightly above the shoulders. Aim to create a 90 degree angle with your arms so that you do not collapse the body weight down.
Push the shoulders down to engage the oblique muscles
Squeeze the inner thighs together
Completing your exhale will pull the belly in, creating core activation

Keep these in mind as you review your Chaturanga Dandasana, and remember to
always be mindful of your breath’s quality. Keep practicing this until you feel that your lower plank is solid in terms of breathing and alignment; once your are comfortable here, begin to practice your Parsvabakasana using these same techniques.

Now, let’s talk more about Side Crow Pose… Firstly, for this asana, it is important to take into account that your shoulders should be balanced or in the same line. Avoid collapsing your weight onto one shoulder to avoid imbalance and injury. In order to do this, keeping the legs engaged can make a big difference. When you practice Parsvabakasana, remember to:

Keep squeezing the inner thighs together
Spread the toes
Engage the quadriceps
Actively pull the legs back into the hip sockets

While it may seem like all the body weight is carried on the arms and hands in
this posture, it is just as important to pay attention to the leg activation, as this will actually make you feel lighter on your arms and hands when you lift up. Also, these tips will give you the ability to engage the lower abdominal region and keep your pelvic floor (Mula Bandha) active.

Consistency is always key in the Yoga System, so practice and apply these tips in your daily practice, particularly in your Chaturanga Dandasana. Paying more attention to your alignment and leg activation in this seemingly basic pose will train muscles in your body to help build your strength to get into Parsvabakasana. Keep practicing!