Author Archives: Laurel

Shut Up and Yoga | But is that Even Yoga?

As a yoga teacher, I share a wide variety of movements in my classes: self-massage using therapy balls, interdisciplinary movement inspired by systems like Pilates, Feldenkrais, and weight-training, plus (surprisingly hard) developmental movements we, humans, tend to forget once we grow up (think: crawling, squatting, rolling over). These modalities gave […]

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Muscular Tension Deserves Better PR

Tension needs a better PR firm. It gets a bad rap in yogaland. There’s an awful lot of talk about getting rid of it like holy socks, or releasing it like animals at the zoo, or letting it go like Chinese lanterns. It seems like we’re always running away from […]

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BACK-BENDING OR FLAT-BENDING?

I’m gonna cut to the chase here. The thoracic spine can’t bend backwards. At all. This means the common cue in backbends that we should ‘backbend from the thoracic spine’ conveys more a sense of direction for this region of the spine, rather than a target position. Ultimately, in a backbend, our whole spine extends. […]

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PRACTICE AND ALL MAY STILL NOT COME

Yogaland platitudes like, “Practice and all is coming” are really comfy words to live by, but what do they actually mean? Personally, I find them problematic because I think they bypass the importance of critical thinking and questioning what we’re learning, practicing and teaching. Is it enough to just keep practicing? […]

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ON BECOMING AN EMPOWERED EDUCATOR

It starts with your practice… I know I say it a lot, but the Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 changed my teaching. I think it’s important to add that I was ready for my teaching to change. It was 2013, and I had been teaching classes for 6 years and […]

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FROM IMITATION TO INNOVATION

When I was a 200hr trainee, my trainers taught me that on the path to learning to teach, there are three stages: imitation, integration, and innovation. Imitation Yoga teachers learn to teach in the beginning mostly by imitating their teachers and following ‘the rules’ of the method. This makes sense. According to […]

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THE ACTUAL MEANING OF VINYASA

This past weekend in the YogaWorks 200hr teacher training I’m leading we talked about the meaning of Vinyasa and how this Sanskrit word doesn’t actually translate how many think it does. Vinyasa doesn’t mean ‘flow’ or ‘moving on the breath’ or ‘chaturanga, up-dog, down-dog.’ In his book, The Heart of Yoga, T. K. […]

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CARRIER PIGEON TO EXTERNALLY LOAD YOUR OUTER HIPS

Pigeon pose is one of the most popular ‘hip opening’ postures that yoga students love to hang out in. Meanwhile, it’s unclear given all that we know and are still learning about stretching whether more flexibility gained through exploring passive range of motion (aka hanging out in a stretch) is […]

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Is Yin Yoga Bad for You?

The following was a conversation between a Yin yoga teacher and I during a Body of Knowledge™️ biomechanics workshop about soft tissues, hypermobility and stretching. In it, she asked how to reconcile her new understanding of passive stretching and hypermobility with her existing understanding of the aim of Yin yoga. […]

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What to Do about ‘Tightness’?

The sensation of tightness or muscle tension is a sensation that yoga students frequently explore through passive stretching in order to alleviate ‘tightness’ that they feel around their shoulders, hips, or back. Is passive stretching the best solution for tightness? In this video, I explain a little bit more about […]

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Osteokinematics vs. Arthokinematics

Joint movement can be described in 2 main ways. Osteokinematic movement is the movement of your body parts and it’s clearly visible to the naked eye. Arthrokinematic movement is movement that happens inside your joint capsules and cannot be seen. Your joint surfaces slide, spin and roll across each other. […]

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Stretching : Rigidity vs. Extensibility

In this episode, I touch on the biomechanics of stretching and explore some of most important soft tissue properties to know about – rigidity and extensibility. These properties, and their relationship to flexibility and mobility, are extra important to understand if you are interested in a sustainable yoga practice that […]

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Active Range in Sliding Lunge

In this episode we’ll take a look at a common yoga pose, low lunge, or anjaneyasana. We’ll look specifically at two ways that you can practice this pose. One way is more of a passive approach that biases and exploits flexibility, while the other way is more active and seeks […]

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Stretching: Mobility vs. Flexibility

A majority of people who try yoga for the first time do so because they want to get more flexible. One of yoga’s benefits is that it is a highly effective practice for increasing range of motion. But why do we want to increase range of motion at our joints […]

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Chaturanga-Less Sun Salute – A Silent Tutorial

Enjoy my latest Body of Knowledge™ video blog – a Chaturanga-Less Sun Salute! Joint centration is the ideal balance between the muscles that mobilize and stabilize as well as the agonists and antagonists of a joint. Centration implies that all the muscles that surround the joint have balanced their tension […]

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Bone Rhythms, Part 3

Take your body out from between ‘two panes of glass’ and stop squaring your curved pelvis in triangle pose. In part 3 of the Bone Rhythms Trilogy, this Body of Knowledge™ vlog raises your awareness of the action and position of rotation at your hip joints in triangle – specifically […]

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Bone Rhythms : Self-Adjust Front Hip in Triangle

I sometimes call triangle pose Bermuda Triangle because proprioception, sense of direction, and the ability to hold oneself up muscularly instead of collapsing into joint tissues all seem to mysteriously disappear in this shape. In this Body of Knowledge™ vlog post, I show a simple self-adjustment to tactilely clarify movement […]

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Bone Rhythms, Part 2

In part 2 of the bone rhythms trilogy, we take a look at triangle pose and how knowledge of coupled movements can clarify what you feel and see happening in this sneakily complex posture. We discuss two different approaches to triangle pose and how to couple or uncouple (that is […]

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Laurel bone rhythms

Bone Rhythms, Part 1

This is the first Body of Knowledge™ video blog about bone rhythms of the thigh, pelvis and low back. In this video we take a look at a squat and fetal position to understand femoropelvic and lumbopelvic rhythms. Bone rhythms (or coupled movements) are great to know about for anticipating […]

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Laurel introduces Body of Knowledge video blog

Welcome to My Blog + Why I Created It

In this blog intro, I share my intention for the Body of Knowledge™ video blog. Namely, it is to share with you some of the questions I love to wrestle with as a student of what I teach – movement, anatomy, biomechanics and the courage to remain curious.

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Nostalgia: El jardín inglés de las emociones

¡La primavera finalmente ha brotado! El fin de semana pasado disfruté plantar caléndulas e impatiens en jardineras de ventana con mi esposo, Nathan – fue nuestro primer intento de jardinería al aire libre, urbana. Estoy bastante impresionada con nuestra obra (bien, debo aceptar que él hizo la mayoría de las […]

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Uplifting News for Depressed Shoulders (4/6) | Refining Upward Rotation | Written for YTU Blog | May 2015

In my last post, I deconstructed scapuloclaviculohumeral rhythm, the co-movement of the bones of the shoulder (humerus, clavicle and scapula) during movement. To more thoroughly understand scapuloclaviculohumeral rhythm, it’s helpful to understand a big-picture role of the scapula in the overhead position. When the arms move overhead, the scapula guides the arm bone.

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Uplifting News for Depressed Shoulders (1/6): Parampara or a Long Game of Telephone? | Written for YTU Blog | May 2015

Originally, yoga postures were practiced to obtain spiritual enlightenment, not for musculoskeletal health. Renunciates used their asana practice to tame their unruly flesh in order to be able to sit for excruciatingly long periods of time in meditation. Ironically, the demands of today’s technology-driven society have resulted in a similar […]

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La gratitud que los retos pueden inspirar

Estoy segura que ya han visto o escuchado el reto de gratitud en las redes sociales. Funciona así: cada día por un periodo de tiempo fijo, escribe tres cosas por las que te sientes agradecido/a. Decidí participar en el reto con mi grupo de estudiantes de maestros de yoga en […]

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Uncovering Sorrow, Recovering Joy

In the summer of 2011, I left New York for several months and moved back to my childhood home in Wisconsin. I left to take care of my mother, who, after living 66 years of a life dedicated to loving and serving others, had opted for in-home hospice to live out the last few months of her battle with uterine cancer.

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