Having problems with yoga... - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-20-2005, 12:26 AM
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I've been doing yoga for about 8 months now. I've mainly learned from a bunch of tapes, but also from magazines and websites. I really enjoy doing the challanges and peace you get from yoga, but as I get into harder moves, something it getting in the way... my boobs!



I have big boobs (36DD) and it's really a pain in the butt. When I do some poses I feel like I'm going to suffocate. Has anyone had this problem? Any advice on what to do, like bras to try or anything?



I'm sorry if this is a dumb thread and if it should be in the women's forum... But please help, because it makes me sad that I can't advance in certain poses because of my chest...
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#2 Old 06-20-2005, 11:51 AM
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Hi AshieDawn!



Well, I know a perfect lady to answer this thread since she [I believe] is better endowed than I, and also a yoga teacher fa real whereas I am just a practitioner. zoebird, where art thou?



However, I have heard this complaint before!



The best advice I can offer you, and this goes for all yoga difficulties [arms too short, bellies, bones sticking into floor, etc. etc.] is to



1. acknowledge that yoga is a process and that the poses are not to be "performed"...there are some things that my body just won't do, or at least won't do happily, and my yoga is making peace with that without abandoning progress altogether. It is great that you want to move forward in your practice and I know you can, but remember not to sacrifice your peace in a posture for the "glory of the pose" [Vanda Scaravelli said that and I like it a lot].



2. Modify modify modify! Some types of yoga shun props, but if you are ever in an environment and/or working with an instructor that encourages them, try using blocks [or books, or whatever you have on hand] to create more space between you and the floor and a place for your boobs to go...some postures/backbends where you are on your stomach can be uncomfortable for large-breasted women and I have seen them performed against a wall so gravity is not so tyrannical. Seated twists can be a problem, too. Rather than "torquing" the body into the external appearance of a pose, try to generate the movement from inside you, and as soon as you feel that discomfort, stop, BREATHE, and see if you can make more space in the pose without force.



3. The breath is the most important part of your yoga practice. If you cannot breathe easily, you have probably gone too far. There are advanced pranayama techniques that involve the restriction of the breath but chances are you are not practicing those regularly. So, let your breath be your teacher and guide. Don't be afraid to only go 20% or even 10% into the pose. If you are very flexible you have probably been gratified at how certain stretches feel when you go into them very deeply, but you aren't just your loose hamstrings or flexible spine...you are also your boobs, and they need love and acceptance too.



Let me know if there are particular postures that you are having difficulty with and maybe zoebird or other yogis/yoginis will have other suggestions for you.
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#3 Old 06-20-2005, 11:58 AM
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Although my boobs are not as large as yours, for a small person (4'10") they're pretty big (34C) and I know exactly what you mean. In certain poses, I advance quite well, and others are just physically impossible with my boobs in the way. I think it's just a matter of accepting that everyone's body is different and you should just go as far as you can go without feeling like you're going to suffocate. Don't feel like your goal should be to go as far as the instructor does or that you should be capable of doing something someone with a completely different body type can do. As for a good bra, I just use a sports bra--something comfortable that also keeps my boobs relatively immobile. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think yoga was developed by men, flat-chested thin men, so a lot of the poses don't account for boobage. That just means you have to adapt poses to your body.
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#4 Old 06-20-2005, 01:11 PM
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i know how thats feels..because i use to take yoga, and had the same problems...i just came to realize i cant do some poses others can..
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#5 Old 06-20-2005, 02:22 PM
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I've been using my 5th Harry Potter book for a yoga brick. I can't do poses with chairs or walls because my room is pretty crowded, with all of the furniture up against the walls (I actually just rearranged my room so I'd have more room for yoga and other exercises) and I don't have the proper kind of chair. Shoulderstands and headstands are pretty much impossible for me, and I can't breathe steadily (barely at all) when doing the plow pose. I could probably skip all the inverted poses, but it's sorta a bummer, you know?
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#6 Old 06-20-2005, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AshieDawn View Post

I've been using my 5th Harry Potter book for a yoga brick. I can't do poses with chairs or walls because my room is pretty crowded, with all of the furniture up against the walls (I actually just rearranged my room so I'd have more room for yoga and other exercises) and I don't have the proper kind of chair. Shoulderstands and headstands are pretty much impossible for me, and I can't breathe steadily (barely at all) when doing the plow pose. I could probably skip all the inverted poses, but it's sorta a bummer, you know?



'Tis, 'tis. Try Viparita Karani [Legs Up The Wall Pose]...you can throw your Harry Potter book[s] under the small of your back. This posture is nice'n'relaxing and has the benefits of an inversion without smothering you. I practice V.K. on the days when I don't feel "up" for those other inversions.



Maybe as you develop more openness in your shoulder girdle and extension in the upper back, Plow may become more accessible to you. I know many boys who can't breathe in Plow and I'm pretty sure it's not their boobs. tee hee. But seriously, a good balance between acceptance and diligent practice has always helped me.
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#7 Old 06-21-2005, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brahmacharya View Post

I know many boys who can't breathe in Plow and I'm pretty sure it's not their boobs. tee hee.



lol! That's good to know. Thanks for the advice.
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#8 Old 06-21-2005, 01:32 PM
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ok, i now am around and can 'weigh in' on this issue.



one of the things that we girlies have to recognize is that asana (hatha) yoga was developed by men for men, and for the first few thousand years, women were forbidden to practice asana yoga. it was considered too powerful, and females--with their reproductive coolness--were already way too powerful! So, men needed to find ways to increase their vitality and virility and thereby developed asana yoga (also, it was a meditative practice, and most women had too much work to do to participate anyway, until they were elders).



Ok, so, most of the poses were not developed with certain things in mind--like boobs or pregnancies. in the 6000 years since the early development of yoga, a few women have really pioneered into this space--developing prenatal yoga, which is a relatively new invention in hatha yoga, really. It was more part of ayurveda, with a few poses dropped in to help open the hips for birth. It was part of ayurvedic prenatal care, and even then it was things like cat stretch, yoga squat, that sort of thing.



So, while we ladies tend to be more flexible, there is this matter of breast tissue. Sometimes, with tight shoulders and large breasts, it can be hard to get into eagle pose (garudasana). Sometimes, it can be hard to balance on the breasts as in peacock pose and modified locust pose (mayurasana and salamba shalabhasana)--in both of these, the chest is on the arms (triceps) or on the floor. So, it can be difficult to put all of your body weight in these areas without discomfort (as is my case).



It is likely that it isn't so much your breasts that's holding you back in inversions such as bridge pose (setu bandhasana or setu bandha sarvinghasana--depending upon which one you do), but likely that you're sinking into jalandhara bandha (throat lock) and not keeping the chin lifted enough. Similarly, as Brahmacharya mentioned, shoulder flexability is also important here, as that tends to move the breasts away from the face as the shoulders come together and the rib cage lifts, rather than toward the face. Also, as the chest muscles get stronger, they, too, will help 'hold' the breast tissue in the right place (even though there is a lot of it!).



and just to mention it viparita karani is a great pose. the term 'viparita karani' actually simply refers to the action of inverting, which is why it is sometimes used to refer to any shoulder-stand based inversion which may cause a lot of confusion of terms. I have learned the following things about using the term viparita karani in the west.



The version that brahamacharya described is actually salambha viparita karani--or supported or modifed viparita karani (sometimes called inversion pose or waterfall pose). this is the most common use of the term in the west, but because it is a supported action of inversion, it is proper to use the term 'supported' or 'salambha' in front of it. With this, there is a 'full expression' of viparita karani. Sometimes, it's called ardha sarvinghasana or half shoulder stand, but i think this is also incorrect because half shoulder stand is done with a straight back, rather than a back bend/curved back. in it's full expression, viparita karani is setu bandha sarvinghasana (construction of a bridge from shoulder stand) with both legs straight up in the air to the ceiling. the hands are maintaining the balance by supporting the hips, elbows are just below the hands on floor. At first, it feels as if the elbows are holding all of the weight, yet when the yogin has the appropriate flexibility and balance in the shoulders, most of the weight is in the shoulders, maintained by the back bend and the abdominals. THis posture takes a lot of shoulder flexibility, abdominal strength, and balance. it's sometines considered ardha sarvinghasana (half shoulder stand), but is actually viparita karani. That being said, it's more common to practice salambha viparita karani, and the benefits are the same.



as for use of home made props, i highly recommend bibles, law books, and harry potter books. If you get those huge, thick rubber bands, this will help maintain the integrity of the book (so that it doesn't slide this way and that on it's spine), as well as maintain the intergrity of your poses. Pillows, blankets folded, and the like, are also good choices for viparita karani.



For other back bends, you may like supported reclining bound angle pose (salambha supta baddha konasana). here, you're on your back, feet together and knees falling outward. Put a pillow or blanket (folded) under your lower back and lay over it. arms open out to the sides. knees open, feet together, drawing the feet as close to the body as you can. hips and shoulders will remain on the floor, as will the head, but the back gets a nice arch. It is the same arch as setu bandhasana/setu bandha sarvinghasana/urdvha danurasana.



and, as always, just practice at your own pace. there are no goals, beyond enlightenment, and no matter which poses you do or don't do, you can still reach that goal. IN fact, you can reach that goal without poses. poses just may help.
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#9 Old 06-21-2005, 02:28 PM
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in the shoulder stand and plow pose (sarvinghasana and halasana), the most common problem is that people try to bring their chin to their chest, which gets into jalandhara bandha or throat lock. Lifting the chin to make certain that there is a curve in the neck will open the airway. Another option is to use a blanket under the neck, just up against the shoulders and to place your feet on a chair behind you (or place them in the wall as far down as you can go) as opposed to trying to bring the feet to the floor.



this is also why men have trouble breathing in this pose too. they get stuck in their throat lock--which has it's place, but is an advanced breathing technique, as brahmacharya stated.



bramhacharya:



how is eka pada raja kapotasana going?
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#10 Old 06-21-2005, 03:24 PM
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Hi zoebird; I'll answer this in this thread because it relates to thoracic spine opening, and also how patient practice [and props...the 3 Ps] can make formerly remote postures more accessible [since I can be greedy!]



For those of you watching at home, the attachment is Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana. Note the lack of boobs.



My biggest problem is my swayback, so even getting the lower part of my body to remain stable and well-aligned has been a pain. I've been practicing Hanumanasa [the splits] with blocks and without, to open up that back leg's hip flexor. It's weird, but almost as soon as I get close to the ground I get very ambitious! I want to go further, my breath speeds up, and I forget what I'm doing, so this has been an excellent chance to monitor myself and refocus. Anyway, I do that a couple of times and then rest in wide-legged Child's Pose to regroup.



It takes me about 3 minutes to approach E.P.R.K. properly. I set up in Pigeon Prep with the back leg extended for a while, then bend the back leg, and first I do a set where my foot rests in between my elbow and I clasp my hands behind my head.



This first version has been GREAT because without correct alignment, the foot just slips right out. It also takes more extension in my upper back to get my elbow back there.



Then I use a strap around my foot to approach the full version. Interestingly enough, the less I "try" to get into it, the further I go. I imagine the length coming from my kidney area and from between my shoulder blades, and that gets me much farther than flailing around grabbing my foot like a wildwoman. I inch my way along the strap that way and eventually, there they are.



The biggest problem I'm having now is that the weight of my head wants to pull my neck back further than it wants to go. If I'm not very careful I let go of it and my lower back crunches, in what appears to be a fairly common problem for those of us ladies with flexible lower backs. Anyway, the work is ongoing and I'm doing a double class tonight so that will be a nice chance to get in there. It is such a wonderful feeling to do this posture supported and comfortable...well worth the effort.
LL
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#11 Old 06-21-2005, 10:36 PM
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Wow, zoebird, you're my hero! There's so much more for me to learn and I can't wait. *studies up* I really need to learn the real name for things. Yoga for dummies and other videos from walmart can only take you so far...



I've done the reclining bound angle pose before I think, except without the blanket. It was called the butterfly pose. Is that the same thing?



Thanks for your suggestions, I'll try them out and let you know how it goes.
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#12 Old 06-22-2005, 05:33 AM
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ashie:



yes, sometimes it's called 'butterfly pose.' the problem with learning the terms only in english is that the english names of things vary greatly. I remember taking a kali ray tri yoga class and having the teacher day "swan pose! no, swan pose! no, i said, swan pose!" and i was going--what f'in swan pose. Then, i saw that the class was doing ado muke eka pada kapotasana which is downward facing, one-leg pidgeon pose (one of the prep poses that brahmacharya mentions). we were supposed to be practicing with eyes closed, so prior to looking, i couldn't see. Commonly, this posture is called 'pidgeon pose' and most people avoid the sanskrit.



So, using the sanskrit is helpful when you have people from different traditions coming together to talk poses. But, even this can be difficult, as different schools will use different sanskrit names. YOu may have noted that above with viparita karani. similarly, one term may be used for a class of postures or a group of postures, such as in the case of viparita karani as well as raja kapotasana. And, even more interesting are the more modern developments in yoga, where the teacher gives it a name and then tries to work backwards into the sanskrit. An example of this is "fire log pose" or "double pidgeon" or "double head to knee pose"--which are "agnistambhasana," "dwi pada kapotasana," and "dwi pada janu sirsasana." As a teacher, i felt it was important to choose a sanskrit name that i felt was most appropriate, and so came up with an argument to support why i felt it was most appropriate. In speaking with teachers who developed these sanskrit names, most were entirely frustrated that i would debate them on why another name was better. I have chosen "agnistambhasana" as the most appropriate name because the other two refer to specific alignment points that are not reached or dealt with in the posture. agnistambhasana also deals with an idea that can have far-reaching, practical spiritual/esoteric uses, and i've explored that greatly as well. Also, it seems most closely related to an ancient posture by that name, even though the alignment is slightly different, the overall shape is the same, and so are the physical and energetic areas that are worked.



Another important reason to learn the sanskrit names is because it helps when you travel between groups. for instance, i took a few classes in denmark. most popular were traditional astanga classes, and my 'level' was such that i took classes that were only offered in danish. since i didn't speak danish, the teacher taught in sanskrit and in danish, so i was able to follow easily because i knew these names. This is a great benefit.



I highly recommend Iyengar's book Light ON Yoga. It's actually quite difficult to use, overall, but i recommend it as a sort of 'learning book' rather than a 'practice book' although you will gain valuable practice information from this book. i find that the book works best this way. I find a picture of a pose that i want to learn about. Then, i flip around to find text refers to which picture. Then, i read that text and look at the picture. Iyengar uses the sanskrit name for each pose--so you can't go in going "ok, what's swan's pose supposed to be?" you won't find 'swan pose.' you will find eka pada raja kapotasana. if you don't know to look for eka pada raja kapotasana, no help. But, if you do know to look for a picture, then you'll find what it refers to, you'll start to figure out the language.



sanskrit is also pretty easy and repetitive. asana means pose and is attached to everything. then, there's the 'pre words' which indicate different things: parsva--side; ardha--half; parivritta--revolving; salambha--supported; supta--reclining; eka--one or single; pada--foot; hasta--hand; gunsta--big toe; baddha--bound; etc. Then, you'll discover the sort of 'classes' or types of poses by their names: kon--angle; kapot--pidgeon; sarvingh--shoulder; sirsa--head; etc. So, what do you think salambha parivritta parsvokonasana is?
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#13 Old 06-22-2005, 06:12 AM
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brahmacharya:



here's a whole lot of variations in the kapotasana family that may help you in various ways: http://yogadancer.com/Pages/Rajakapotasana.shtml#Logs.



but, i must point out a common problem in many of the pictures that pertains to swayback particularly. a lot of women (and men) sink into the area of the lower back because they can get to the pose that way. A lot of the pictures depict this (as well as other alignment problems). Doing so, of course, is a 'cheat' and certainly will cause some back problems in the long term.



The 'fix' for this is located by focusing on the bandhas (locks), to maintain the stability and extension of the lower back, and moving the 'pidgeon' aspects of this pose into the psoas and into the rib cage ('pidgeon breasted!') and thereby upper back for the full expression of the back bend. this, then, makes the back bend more similar to upward facing dog or cobra pose, and in fact, most back bends come not from the lower back, but rather from mid back and upper back extension. maintaining the locks protects the lower back, regardless of the back bend, as does maintaining the thigh alignment and rotation. In the case of this posture, the back leg is extended straight back out of the squared hip, inner thigh rotating in and then upwards toward the ceiling--same as it is/would be in both upward dog and cobra pose.



also, not many of the prep poses actually deals with stretching the psoas (or hip flexor) in an efficient, specific, and effective manner. I find that doing a sort of 'half frog pose (ardha bhekasana) from downward, one-leg pidgeon pose (adho muka, eka pada raja kapotasana) helps to extend through the psoas. then, i like to combine this stretch with lifting upward through the locks.



Once i do the 'half frog pose' variation on the back leg, i really love to then extend through that leg and press through the top of the foot as if in upward facing dog--almost lifting the thigh and knee off the floor, really coming out of the hips. Once i have my balance, i then reach overhead and clasp my hands into durga mudra (fingers interlaced, index finger pointing). i strive to make my back as straight as possible, as this moves deeply into the psoas, uses a great deal of lock strength/stability to protect the lower back and find the appropriate upward extention of back before entering into the back bend.



as for the head/neck issue in the pose, many people will drop their heads back rather than curving back through the neck, using neck strength. For this, i often practice 'pelican neck,' as i see it. Basicly, with a relaxed neck, tuck the chin straight back, neck is long. The chin should not move downward toward the throat or the lock (jalandhara bandha), but rather just straight back. Then, roll the chin up toward the ceiling such that the stretch is through the throat and chin. you should be able to breathe, talk, and swallow normally. this works for any back bend or upward gaze, and also increases flexibility in the neck for postures that balance on that area--such as shalabhasana (locust pose). that should keep the head from dropping back in a 'heavy' manner.



How was that double class? (what is a double class?)
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