Trouble with Balancing Poses?

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Sanjay asks:

I am 50 years old, and I’ve had an angioplasty. While doing pranayama (anulom-vilom) my neck and shoulders are in pain. Is my method incorrect or it is something else?

First of all, if you’d had an angioplasty, you need to make sure this is okay with your doctor. If you’re doing retention, which is called Kumbhaka when you’re doing pranayama, which is when you bring your chin to your chest in jalandhara mudra. Those are really big words, but basically if you take your chin to your chest when you’re holding your breath in a pranayama practice, you might want to leave that out.

Based on your medical condition and the fact you’re doing pranayama, I’d really recommend you try working with a teacher. It’s very likely that you’re going to want to do pranayama without doing jalandhara chin lock, when you’re doing those Kumbhaka retentions, just keeping your chin parallel with the floor. Whatever you do be careful, especially with your condition.

Marilou asks:

I have been trying to learn Nauli Kriya, but find it hard. I do Full Uddiyana Bandha, but I think the sucking up is not as clean yet, therefore Nauli stays tough. Do you have any tips for me?

Marilou, we have a video on YouTube. My YouTube channel is YouTube.com/LRockwood, and if you just look for Nauli belly twirling trick or something like that, I have a video there you’ll find. The key thing is to practice Uddiyana Bandha Kriya. In order to do that, you blow all the air out, put your hands on your knees and then suck your belly in with your breath held. Now, you’re holding your breath at the bottom of the breath, so your lungs are empty. This is different than you’ve probably held your breath before. And you want to hold that really, really strong and look at your bellybutton, so your body is kind of rolled up.

Once you get Uddiyana Bandha very strong, you can move towards Nauli. You should be able to learn this very quickly. A lot of people struggle for years with this, mostly because they don’t practice properly. Watch that video. It will show you how to do it. You should be able to start to learn this within 6 to 8 weeks. By 8 weeks, 10 weeks, you should be able to do it just fine. It’s something everyone can learn, but you do need to learn it properly.

The way I teach it, you kind of use pressure on your knees with your hands as a cheat. It’s very hard to describe on audio, but check out the video. It will be more clear.

Jenna asks:

I want to know your take on seltzer water. Is seltzer less effective at hydrating the body than regular tap or bottled water? Is Yoga Water-E as effective in seltzer as well?

Seltzer water, in general, is fake, carbonated water, like they’d have at a bar that you’d add to a drink. So that’s just normal water and they add carbonation and they usually add really crappy forms of salt. It’s not really that bad for you compared to other things. It does create carbonic acid, which is not really great for your digestion. It’s not the greatest thing.

Because there’s some salt in there, it might be more hydrating than regular water, but I think the negatives is that carbonic acid and the crappy form of salt they’re giving you is probably going to give you some water retention because of that. When I drink a lot of seltzer water I get really bloated, for example, which is pretty common.

That said, there are fizzy waters, as my daughter likes to call them, she loves fizzy waters, that are really great for you. The ones that are good for you are the natural mineral water. They come from the ground, and they’re very expensive. Natural mineral waters, depending on where you live, where I live here in Spain we can get really great natural mineral waters and they’re fantastic.

Yoga Water-E, does it work in seltzer water? Yeah, sure, but I’d prefer you put that in something more natural, like even tap water is going to be better.

Julie asks:

I have trouble with balancing poses. My standing foot will cramp with me trying to keep myself upright. I also struggle in half moon pose, as my standing leg hip starts to cramp. Are there any tips to improve balance?

Yes, the short answer is yes. It’s also possible the other way around, that your balance issues are creating your postural issues. The one thing to keep in mind is that very few people have perfect posture, and very few people will ever get that way, to perfect posture. So some people have a real sway back, some people have a back that’s so flat they can’t get any natural curvature. Some peoples’ shoulders hunch too far forward, some peoples’ kind of go too far back and they puff their chest out.

We’re always just trying to move toward balance. Sometimes I find that people get overly obsessed with perfect posture, perfect poses in yoga, and it doesn’t sound like you’re doing that but I just mention it as something to keep in mind. Our bodies are unique and they are what they are, and you’ve got to kind of take what you got and do the best you can with it, because at the end of the day we never really find balance. We move toward balance, and that’s the practice of yoga, which is really, really key.

In terms of working on your posture, working in your yoga class, all the things you’re doing will be very, very helpful, even more helpful or at least just as helpful, is working on your posture throughout the day, specifically on your chair. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, making sure that you’re sitting on the edge of your chair, as opposed to leaning back most of the day, thinking about switching up your chairs during the day, perhaps sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair, perhaps sitting on a stool instead of a chair, playing around with perhaps having a standing desk, these kinds of things.

I like to mix it up. I use chairs that have no arms on them, no arms so that I can do a full Lotus and sit on my chair with my legs crossed, because that’s a much, much more natural way to improve your posture. There’s lots of different things you can play around with. If you’re on your feet all day, if you have a job or if you have responsibilities like a bunch of kids that are keeping you on your feet all day, make sure you’re wearing good shoes. And by good shoes I mean simple shoes.

These ultra-supportive, arch support, crazy cushion, padded, air shoes often create more imbalances and more problems than they solve. The simplest shoes, like flats, like an old-school pair of Converse, like a pair of Nike Free’s, like a pair of even flip flops can do a lot more for your posture than all those crazy orthotics, which can lead to really bad imbalances and things like that. We’ve talked a lot about that in the past, so I won’t get into that too much, but take a look at the shoes you’re wearing around. Make sure you’re wearing something natural, close to nature, and take a look at your chair that you’re sitting in and your posture at those times and that can be helpful as well. Yoga Trapeze®